Groz Remembers the 2001 Mariners: Solid and steady David Bell
2001: A Baseball Odyssey – a weekly look back at the record-setting 2001 Mariners and the players who made them who they were.
After the rush of the 1995 season, baseball’s economics popped back up to the dismay of Mariners fans.
Mike Blowers was dealt to Los Angeles shortly after the season ended, and the Mariners needed a new third baseman. A week later the howls of protest drew louder when the the M’s traded Tino Martinez to the Yankees along with Jeff Nelson and Jim Mecir for pitcher Sterling Hitchcock and prospect Russ Davis, who they hoped would be Blowers’ replacement at third.
Davis had a largely forgettable Mariners career, though he did hit the first homer at Safeco Field. As bad as the trade was to get him, the Mariners fleeced Cleveland for his replacement as they dealt a fading Joey Cora in August 1998 for David Bell. Cora played just 24 games and retired while Bell manned third base for much of the Mariners’ best era of baseball.
Like teammate Bret Boone, Bell was a third generation ballplayer, the grandson of Gus and son of longtime MLB third baseman Buddy Bell. David Bell had a typically solid year in 2001, hitting .260 with 15 homers and 64 RBIs in 135 games while playing a steady if not spectacular third base.
A night to remember was Aug. 23 at Safeco Field in front of the usual sellout crowd. It was a rare night when the offense simply wasn’t clicking as the team clung to a 2-1 lead heading into the seventh inning against Detroit. Enter Bell, who homered in the seventh and eighth innings, leading the M’s to their 92nd victory of the season as the team kept rolling towards the record for wins.
Bell had a 12-year career that continued as he joined the Giants in 2002, slugging 20 homers in the regular season and hitting .419 in the NLCS to help San Francisco reach the World Series. He is now enjoying a successful run managing his hometown Reds with Cincinnati, one of baseball’s youngest teams, in the thick of the NL Wild Card race.
More 2001 Mariners memories from Groz
• Mike Cameron pulls off the impossible
• Kazuhiro Sasaki, Mariners’ man of mystery
• The infamous Cleveland comeback
• When Ichiro became Ichiro
• The curious case of Al Martin
• Freddy García replaces the ace he was traded for
• Kaz Sasaki and Seattle’s incredible bullpen
• Seattle hosts an All-Star Game for the ages
• The bounceback year of M’s Hall of Famer Dan Wilson
• Mark McLemore, the all-important 10th man
• Edgar Martinez cements his legacy with his last great season
• Aaron Sele, the pitcher who ‘fell from the sky’
• Bret Boone gave Seattle a huge, surprising boost
• Paul Abbott, the forgotten hero of the historic ’01 M’s
• Introduction: Celebrating the 2001 Mariners, 20 years later