CINCINNATI -- The moment that the Reds front office placed a No. 25 uniform on the back of new manager David Bell on Monday was the clearest sign that no one was hiding from his legacy in Cincinnati. Twenty-five is the same number that his grandfather, Gus Bell, wore for
CINCINNATI -- The moment that the Reds front office placed a No. 25 uniform on the back of new manager David Bell on Monday was the clearest sign that no one was hiding from his legacy in Cincinnati. Twenty-five is the same number that his grandfather, Gus Bell, wore for the Reds in the 1950s and his father Buddy Bell donned in the 1980s.
And now it's worn by the third generation of Bells in Major League Baseball and Cincinnati. The Reds named Bell as their new manager on Sunday and introduced him during a Monday news conference at Great American Ball Park after they signing him to a three-year contract through the 2021 season with a club option for '22.
"It's what I always wanted and what I dreamed of," Bell said. "To have an opportunity to work with people you respect and like and truly are in it to be all together with one goal, this is what I was hoping for."
Bell, 46, was also strongly considered for managerial vacancies in Texas and Toronto, but he knew which team he really wanted to work for when the Reds first contacted him about three weeks ago. He didn't hesitate once the job was offered after two rounds of interviews.
"There was no thinking involved," Bell said. "There was no decision to make, because of the connection. It was something that was in my heart. It was an amazing phone call to get."
The Giants' vice president of player development during the 2018 season, Bell will be a first-time manager in the Major Leagues in '19. However, he does have four years of managing experience in the Reds' farm system. He was at the Double-A level with Carolina from 2009-11 and at Triple-A Louisville in '12.
Bell grew up in Cincinnati and played baseball for Archbishop Moeller High School, where he was a member of the 1989 state championship team.
A Cincinnati legacy is nice, but of course, none of that tops the importance of winning. Can the Reds -- a last-place team in the National League Central the past four seasons -- become contenders again under Bell? He liked the idea of taking a team that's been down and helping it rise.
"It is a great challenge. We have people and players in place," said Bell, the 63rd manager in Reds franchise history. "It's just a matter of bringing it all together and bringing out the best in people. I see that as an incredible challenge, it's going to make us better."
Bell was raised in baseball and has a player development background, but he made clear that he doesn't fear advanced metrics and analytics that are now prominent.
"To succeed in anything at any point, you have to evolve," Bell said. "And they were doing that in the '50s. There are certain things about this game that will never go away. It's about the people and about competing. Outside of that, you're trying to get every edge you possibly can, and that comes from people, information, analytics -- there are so many advances that we have to be open to."
Although his 12-year Major League playing career as a third baseman and second baseman from 1995-2006 did not include a stop in Cincinnati, Bell played for the Indians, Cardinals, Mariners, Giants, Phillies and Brewers. He reached the World Series once, in 2002, with San Francisco.
Bell was the third-base coach for the Cubs in 2013 and served as the Cardinals' bench coach from 2014-17.
"When you talk to people who have worked with him, you constantly hear the words loyal, smart, tough and dedicated," Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. "In fact, one of the former Cardinals I spoke to called him, 'the Silent Assassin.'"
Bell's bug for managing began shortly after he retired as a player. In 2009, then-Reds general manager Walt Jocketty offered him the chance to manage in Double-A.
"Right away I fell in love with it. I knew right away," Bell said. "Of course, then I thought I could [manage in the big leagues]. I'm glad I didn't because I've learned so much.
"It was the connection to the players and the connection to the staff and being able to just find ways to help and support them to be the best that they can be."
Bell left St. Louis for the front office in San Francisco after the '17 season and was in charge of about 300 players and 80 staff. To Williams, that was a big separator from the 11 other candidates and the two other finalists for the job -- Joe Girardi and Brad Ausmus. Williams declined to say whether Girardi was the frontrunner -- as was reported -- before he pulled himself from consideration.
"It's a huge risk to take that uniform off and take a front-office job," Williams said of Bell. "I've seen other guys go upstairs and become a special assistant or advisor and sort of float around and [say], 'Hey, I'm going to learn the ropes.' Running player development is a 24-7, 365 job. You're managing a huge amount of players and staff and getting into management of people and the business. For him to have that vision now of what goes into the decisions we have to make and be able to see the whole field is really unique."
The Reds dismissed former manager Bryan Price in April after four-plus seasons when the team started with a 3-15 record. Bench coach Jim Riggleman was named interim manager and was one of the candidates for the permanent position.
Coaches from Price's and Riggleman's staff -- and the Minor Leagues -- will get consideration to be retained under Bell. Williams said that the process would begin immediately.
Bell learned to love baseball from being around his grandfather Gus and hearing stories about the game in the 1950s era.
"We were like best friends, or at least I thought he was my best friend," Bell said. "He spent so much time with me. I learned so much about the whole approach to the game, and, really, the love of the game came from him and the love and enjoyment of being around those teammates."
Buddy Bell, a senior advisor for the Reds since last winter and a former manager for three big league teams, recused himself from his son's interview process for obvious reasons. David quickly called him when he was offered the job.
"My first reaction was, 'God, I wish my dad was here.' Him and David were so close. He'd be really proud," Buddy said.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.