Derek Bell

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Derek Nathaniel Bell

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Biographical Information[edit]

"Nobody told me I was in competition. If there is competition, somebody better let me know. If there is competition, they better eliminate me out of the race and go ahead and do what they're going to do with me. I ain't never hit in spring training and I never will. If it ain't settled with me out there, then they can trade me. I ain't going out there to hurt myself in spring training battling for a job. If it is [a competition], then I'm going into 'Operation Shutdown.' Tell them exactly what I said. I haven't competed for a job since 1991." - Derek Bell, March 18, 2002

Derek Bell saw action in eleven big league seasons. His finest season may have come during his time with the Houston Astros. In 1998, he batted .314 with 22 homers, 108 RBI and 111 runs scored as part of the growing Houston swarm known as "The Killer Bs". A World Series champion with the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays, Bell made another appearance in the Fall Classic with the New York Mets in 2000, his last decent season as a big leaguer.

Derek may be best known for the "Operation Shutdown" incident of 2002. Bell signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates following the 2000 campaign and endured a terrible 2001 in which he hit .173 for the Bucs (and a paltry .162 in 22 games with the AAA Nashville Sounds). Bell was displeased when, at 2002 spring training, it was announced he would have to fight for a position. Bell left the team on March 29th and was unsurprisingly released two days later. He never played in the majors again while the Pirates paid him over $4 million that year. Mark Madden of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette brilliantly stated: "Derek Bell becomes the ultimate Pirate: lives on a boat and steals money." In an interview in 2020, Bell said he had long regretted the Operation Shutdown quote and it was a kind of hip-hop reference about taking a rest to come back stronger.

In his youth, Bell was a member of the 1980 Little League World Series US Champion team from Tampa. They lost in the championship game to Taiwan's Hualien County, 4-3. One of Bell's teammates was future major leaguer Gary Sheffield and another was first-round pick Ty Griffin. Bell was 0 for 3 with a RBI in the finale, hitting 5th and playing right field for Tampa. He played in the 1981 Little League World Series as well, becoming the first two-time LLWS player who would become a major leaguer. Tampa (this time without Sheffield and Griffin) again won the US title. In the finale, Bell hit third and went 1 for 3; he also pitched, giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, 5 wild pitches and 4 runs while fanning 9 in 5 innings in a 4-2 loss to Taichung, Taiwan.

On April 19, 2006, Derek was arrested in Tampa and charged with felony cocaine possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested again on December 2, 2008, facing four counts related to drug paraphernalia charges. He spent years as an assistant coach at C. Leon King High School and Tampa Catholic High School.

Notable Achievements[edit]

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