CINCINNATI -- Opening Day in their hometown of Cincinnati is always special for a three-generation big league family like the Bells. But Thursday’s opener vs. the Cardinals was far from an easy time for Reds manager David Bell.
The Bell family held a memorial service Wednesday for Twins bench coach Mike Bell in Scottsdale, Ariz. The brother of David, son to Reds executive and former player Buddy Bell and grandson of Reds great Gus Bell, died last week from cancer at the age of 46.
David Bell, clearly still emotional as he spoke, shared his appreciation for the condolences and well-wishes his family received. He flew back to Cincinnati right after the service.
“Yesterday was tough for all of us. But it was also a beautiful day,” Bell said. “There were a lot of people at what was a beautiful ceremony. Everyone did an incredible job of accurately describing what Mike meant in so many peoples' lives. We were very grateful for yesterday. It was really beautiful. It’s obviously been a tough week. But I have to say that the support has been crazy, overwhelming. For that -- myself and our family, Mike’s family, are really grateful. As overwhelming as it has been, it has been incredibly helpful feeling all that love and support. Many, many people were touched by Mike and his life, that has been great.
“The people here, in this clubhouse, in this organization, have been really supporting with a lot of love and given me the space to be there for my family. I was able to be with Mike a lot both physically and mentally and emotionally. Always will be grateful for the time I was able to be there over the last couple months and especially over the last couple weeks.”
Mike Bell played for the Reds in 2000 and was an executive and coach in Arizona’s player development system for 13 years. He joined Minnesota as manager Rocco Baldelli’s bench coach in 2020.
Baldelli attended the memorial service Wednesday.
“I want to keep him in my heart going forward. I will forever,” Baldelli said. “We're going to miss him. I could talk for a while here. The way that Mike made time for every single person that he was around, he wouldn't just leave it at, 'Hey, how's it going? Way to go.' He would spend real time to get to know people, to know what is important to them, to know what they need to not just play well, but to be happy and to be happy when they're leaving the field, too. He lent that every day. He was never too busy for someone. He made time for every single person all the time. It goes well beyond anything that goes on out on the field. These are more lessons on life than they are baseball. Mike was just a wonderful person and I hope to live like him as we go forward."
The Bell family announced just before Spring Training opened that Mike was battling kidney cancer and would miss Twins camp to be home in Arizona with his family.
Upon Mike’s death last Friday, the family encouraged the Twins, Reds and D-backs to play their Spring Training games because Bell would have wanted it that way.
Being able to be back among players, coaches and working again, Bell was comforted by the distraction of being able to do his job.
“It does because this is what we do. This is what I love to do, it’s what Mike loved to do,” Bell said. “It doesn’t change that. If anything, it makes you appreciate every moment to do what we love to do around people that we love. As tough as it is, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It was great today being around everybody again and being around family, that’s really what this team has become.”