FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – 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.