Friday, August 13, 2010
#690) HEATH BELL
Heath Bell was signed by the New York Mets as a free agent on June 16, 1998. He had gone undrafted after his time pitching for Rancho Santiago Community College in California. "I was like, Man my dreams are gone." said Bell. The hard throwing right-hander was entertaining the idea of joining the Marines before the Mets offer came. Heath's father repeatedly talked him out of enlisting and pushed him to pursue his baseball future.
Bell made his major-league debut on August 24, 2004 at Shea Stadium. He lists the moment of his charging from the bullpen and striking out the first batter he would face as a favorite baseball memory. "I saw a bunch of guys go up and down," Heath said. "I spent five years in Triple-A just sitting there waiting for my spot, seeing everyone else go up but me."
The Mets would bounce Bell back and forth between the major and minor league roster during his entire time with New York. "For me it was 11 times in 2006, but only only nine of them counted," Heath said. "There were a few where I got called up, took batting practice and was told, 'Oh wait, we're not activating you.' Or you get the phone call after you get off the plane and they're telling you 'Just wait there.'"
So it was not much of a surprise when the Mets traded Bell along with Royce Ring to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson on November 15, 2006.
"The Mets gave me a shot. I wasn't drafted. I'm real thankful for that," Bell reflected in 2008. "For, what, nine different seasons I was a Met, or in the minor leagues? They went to the World Series in 2000. I was a huge Mets fan, because I poured my heart and soul into New York. I still keep track of everything that goes on. I still throw a Mets game up here on my TV and watch the guys playing. I'm still rooting for the guys, as long as they're not playing us."
After becoming the San Diego Padres closer, Heath has been selected to the Major League All-Star Game in 2009 and 2010. Before the pitcher's second appearance in the mid-summer classic, Jim Bell handed his dog tags from his career in the Marines to his son. "I went and got one of those chains in the store and threw them on," Heath said following the special gift from his father. "I'm probably going to wear them from here on out."
Heath Bell signed his card in the set for my friend, Lou before the San Diego Padres faced the New York Mets at Citi Field on June 8, 2010.