Dec 10, 2012

Short Time Mets Infielder Who Scored the Winning Run of the 2001 World Series: Jay Bell (2003)

Jay Stuart Bell was born on December 11th 1965 in Pensacola Florida. The slim six foot Jay Bell was an outstanding shortstop prospect getting drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Twins (8th pick overall) in 1984.

A year later he was sent to the Cleveland Indians for Bert Blyleven. He made it to the Indians big league club by 1986 but there wasn't much room for him with Julio Franco playing short stop having some big years.

In 1989 he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a steal of deal for the Steel City. He played there seven years getting to three straight post seasons (1990-1992) losing each time in the NLCS. He would lead all NL short stops in fielding twice, put outs three times assists & games played five times each. He would win a Gold Glove in 1993 & make his first All Star team that year as well. He hit a career best .310 that season with 9 HRs 32 doubles 51 RBIs & a .391 on base %.

He was an excellent sacrifice hitter leading the league twice in that category (1990 & 1991). He hit HRs in each of his post season series with Pittsburgh, driving in four runs in 1992 against the Atlanta Braves. As his contract year was approaching he was traded to the Kansas City Royals with Jeff King for Joe Randa Jeff Granger, and Jeff Wallace.

As the era of inflated stats began Bell also saw an increase in his numbers. In 1997 he hit 21 HRs with 28 doubles 92 RBIs and a .291 batting average. After one year in K.C. he signed as a free agent with the Arizona Diamond Backs.

He would spend five years there getting to two more post seasons including a World Championship in 2001. He had a monster year in 1999 as he was now a full time second baseman, making the All Star team & getting votes for the MVP Award.

He hit 38 HRs with 32 doubles 112 RBIs a .289 average & a .374 on base %. He hit .286 with three RBIs in the NLCS against the New York Mets. He never matched those numbers again, in 2001 he hit .249 with 13 HRs 24 doubles & 46 RBIs as Arizona went all the way to an improbable World Series win.

Post Season: By this point in his career he was sharing time with Craig Counsel & Junior Spivey. He saw action in three post season games but they were certainly memorable. He was 1-4 in the NLDS against St. Louis & then 0-4 against the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.

He then saw action in three games of the World Series & was in the center of action for the most memorable moment in D-backs history. In Game #6 of the 2001 World Series, Bell got the start and had two hits with an RBI in the Diamond Backs 15-2 victory. In the classic Game #7, Bell pinch hit for pitcher Randy Johnson in the 9th inning with two men on base. He sacraficed but the runner was forced at third base as he reached first safely.

After Tony Womack doubled to tie the game, Bell was on third base when Luis Gonzales hit his famous bloop single to centerfield. Bell ran in from third base & scored the game winning walk off run off Mariano Rivera. The D-backs won the World Series as Bell came home clapping his hands & jumping in joy.

He played one more year in Arizona enjoying the Championship reign, then signed on with the New York Mets for 2003, his final season.

Bell made his Mets debut on Opening Day going 0-1 as a pinch hitter. He would see action in 72 games, usually as a late inning defensive replacement, pinch hitter or getting a start when a regular rested. He was most versatile, behind Ty Wigginton at third base (14 games) Roberto Alomar at second base (13 games) Jose Reyes at short (12 games) & Jason Phillips at first base (13 games). He hit just .181, with no HRs one double & three RBIs (21-116) drawing 22 walks giving him a .319 on base %.

He retired from playing at the end of the season, finishing his 18 year career batting .265 with 1963 hits 195 HRs 394 doubles 67 triples 860 RBIs & a .343 on base %. Defensively at short stop he posted a career .975 fielding % (33rd all time) with 2309 put outs (79th all time) 4595 assists (60th all time) playing in 1515 games (59th most all time).

Retirement: Bell coached Team USA in the 2010 & 2011 Pan American games, as well as the 2011 Baseball World Cup. He then worked for the AA Mobile Bay Bears as hitting coach in the D-backs organization later that year.

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