Twins coach Mike Bell, brother of Reds manager, dies at 46

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Minnesota Twins bench coach Mike Bell, the younger brother of Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell, died Friday of kidney cancer. He was 46.

At the request of Bell’s family to take the field in his honor, the Twins said their exhibition game against Atlanta would be played as scheduled.

Mike Bell had surgery Jan. 28 to remove a growth that was discovered earlier that month. He’d taken a leave from the team to focus on his health. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said at the start of spring training that his top assistant in the dugout was “very, very optimistic” about his recovery.

“We know Mike as a baseball man, but I can tell you that with the love he has for the game and the love he had for all the people in the game, he was a family man first,” Baldelli said Friday.

“He brought that passion to the field as our bench coach. He was an amazing bench coach because he was amazing with people,” he said.

In a statement issued by the organization, the Twins said Mike Bell had “an indelibly positive impact” on the team and everyone he met during his lone season on the job.

“All who knew Mike, on and off the field, are better for the experience. The Twins join the baseball world in mourning Mike’s untimely passing; our thoughts and best wishes are with his wife, Kelly, his three children, Luke, Mikayla and Madeline, and the entire Bell family during this difficult time.”

Mike Bell was picked by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1997 expansion draft. His lone season playing in the majors was 2000 with Cincinnati when the third baseman got into 19 games and went 6 for 27 with two home runs.

Bell spent 13 years with the Arizona Diamondbacks in player development and minor league managing.

“Mike was truly beloved by everyone who knew him – from coaches and players to colleagues and staff in Arizona and throughout our minor league system,” the Diamondbacks said in a statement. “His loss leaves a huge hole in our hearts but his impact cannot be overstated and his legacy will not be forgotten.”

David Bell played 12 seasons in the majors, primarily with Philadelphia and Seattle, and was hired as the Reds’ manager in 2019.

“Our Reds family is overwhelmed with sadness for the Bells as they mourn the loss of Mike,” Cincinnati chief executive officer Bob Castellini said in a statement.

“This great baseball family blessed thousands of people over the 70 years it has devoted to our game. We are honored that Mike, like his grandfather Gus, his father Buddy, and brother David, wore a Reds uniform. Our hearts and support go out to Buddy, David and their families,” he said.

Buddy Bell spent nine years as a manager and 18 seasons as a player in the major leagues. Their grandfather, Gus Bell, played 15 years in the majors. Another brother, Ricky Bell, had a 10-year minor league career.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.