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Twins bench coach dies

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Mar 28, 2021

Twins bench coach Mike Bell (right), pictured with Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli last season, died from kidney cancer Friday. Photo byBrace Hemmelgarn/ courtesy of Minnesota Twins

Mike Bell, who was the bench coach for the Twins, died of kidney cancer Friday at the age of 46.

Baldelli had not been with the team this spring while being treated.

Bell joined the team last year as its bench coach after having served as vice president of player development with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“We lost our amazing friend and teammate,” Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli said. Baldelli said “the news has been devastating to us here.”

Baldelli said Bell had a lot of friends who cared about him throughout baseball during his career around the game. Bell spent two years in the big leagues as a player with the Braves in the early 1990’s before moving on to a coaching career.

He was the son of Buddy Bell, a veteran of 18 major league baseball seasons who is an executive with the Cincinnati Reds.

“He was an incredibly selfless person,” Baldelli said of his former bench coach. “He was invested in every possible way in helping others. It was basically his mission every day.”

He said Bell had “that spark” to emotionally connect with players.

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

Baldelli said Bell was “dialed in and continuously talking to us about what he had going on at home.”

Baldelli said Bell’s impact will be felt for many years to come. The team chose to play the Braves Friday as scheduled because the Bell family wanted the team to play, Baldelli said.

“Everyone’s still collecting their thoughts” Baldelli said on Saturday regarding the feeling of the team.

“I think everyone is going to grieve in their own way,” Baldelli said.

The Twins put out the following statement on Bell’s death:

“The Minnesota Twins are devastated by the loss of Mike Bell. In his short time with our club, Mike had an indelibly positive impact – not only on the quality of our team on the field, but most importantly upon everyone whom he met. Widely respected in our game, 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.” Bell joined the Twins organization as manager Rocco Baldelli’s bench coach prior to the club’s divisionwinning 2020 season; the 2021 campaign was to be his 29th in professional baseball. Before coming to Minnesota, Bell spent the previous 13 years with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, serving as Vice President of Player Development (2017-19), Director of Player Development (2011-16), Minor League Field Coordinator (2010) and as a minor league manager for three seasons (2008-09 at Single-A Visalia and 2007 at Short-A Yakima). As a player, Bell was selected by the Texas Rangers in the first round of the 1993 First-Year Player Draft and played parts of 13 seasons (1993-2005) with seven organizations. He made his major league debut on July 20, 2000 for the Cincinnati Reds and hit two homers with four RBI across 19 games. Mike Bell was part of a three-generation baseball family that is among the most respected and beloved in the game: Grandfather, Gus, played 15 years in the majors; father, Buddy, spent 27 years in Major League Baseball, nine as a manager and 18 as a player; brother, Ricky, was a third-round selection by Los Angeles-NL in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft; and brother, David, is entering his third season as Cincinnati’s manager, after a 12-year playing career in the majors.”