Beau Bell

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Roy Chester Bell

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Biographical Information[edit]

Beau Bell was a major star for a couple seasons before his career petered out. His sudden emergence as a top hitter was due to advice from Rogers Hornsby, his manager on the St. Louis Browns. After his major league career, he had another career as coach of the Texas A&M team (1951-1958), leading the school to the 1951 College World Series.

Born Roy Chester Bell in Bellville, Texas in 1907, he acquired his nickname when he was a boy. He liked to play "ring around the rosy" with local girls of Czech descent. Czech families in Texas were commonly referred to as Bohemians, so Bell's friends began to call him "Bo." Later, he changed the spelling to "Beau." Beau went to Texas A&M University, graduating in 1931. Playing for the Galveston Buccaneers in the Texas League in 1934, he hit .337 with 51 doubles.

He came up with the St. Louis Browns in 1935 at the age of 27 and hit .250 in 76 games. Reportedly, the Browns were disappointed and sent him back to the minors, calling him the "$17,500 lemon". The next year, 1936, he was back with a vengeance, hitting .344 with 123 RBI. He showed good power, with 40 doubles, 12 triples, and 11 home runs. It was a Browns team on which Harlond Clift was the top scorer, with 145 runs scored. The next year, 1937, was more of the same, as Bell had a .340 average with 117 RBI. His power continued, with 51 doubles to lead the American League, 8 triples and 14 home runs. He also led the league in hits. He was named to the All-Star team. In 1938, he dropped off substantially to .262. The year after, 1939, he was packaged in a ten-player deal that took him to the Detroit Tigers in May, hitting .235 in 65 games. Traded again to the Cleveland Indians, he seemed to improve a bit in 1940, hitting .279, but the following season, 1941 he hit only .192 in 48 games and was gone from the major leagues. He played for the Toledo Mud Hens of the American Association in 1942, then was out of the game for the rest of the war years. In 1947, he returned to organized ball and hit .346 in 136 games as player-manager of the Austin Pioneers of the Big State League, but that would be his last season on a professional ball field.

It was said that drinking problems contributed to the demise of his career, but it may also be noted that he broke in at a late age (27), and did stay in the majors through age 33, which at the time was a fairly old age for a ballplayer. The 1941 Indians had only two position players older than Bell. Both of them were 34, only a year older than Bell, both of them hit under .250, and both were catchers. On the other hand Bell, whose range in the outfield had never been great, slipped in range quite a bit his last year. The most similar player to him, according to similarity scores, is Happy Felsch, which is a comparison that does not take into account how each player's career ended. Another player on the list of the most similar players is an interesting comparison - Pete Reiser, whose career dropped off like Bell's, but for quite different reasons. Reiser also finished out his career at age 33.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (1937)
  • AL Hits Leader (1937)
  • AL Doubles Leader (1937)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: (1936 & 1937)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1936)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 2 (1936 & 1937)

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs
1947 Austin Pioneers Big State League 55-99 7th None

Related Sites[edit]