Monday, December 16, 2013

Player Profile: Derek Bell

I have 85 cards of Derek Bell. This one is from 2001 Fleer Platinum.

Playing career: Outfielder Derek Bell played eleven seasons in the major leagues for the Blue Jays, Padres, Astros, Mets and Pirates. He had his best seasons with the Astros, where he was part of the “Killer B’s” along with Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, twice driving in over 100 runs. A fuller account of his career can be found at The Greatest 21 Days.

My memories: He came up with a ton of hype with Toronto, with his rookie cards being very hot at one time. He never lived up to that potential though he had some pretty good seasons. Of course, as soon as I hear the name “Derek Bell” I immediately think “Operation Shutdown”. After having a terrible 2001 with the Pirates, hitting just .173, he was surprised to learn that he would have to compete for an outfield spot in 2002, telling reporters, "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." Bell never played in the major leagues again, literally sailing away from Pirates camp in his yacht.

Interesting facts: Living on a yacht was only part of Bell’s lavish lifestyle. A 2000 profile of Bell in Sports Illustrated detailed more extravagant purchases: “Such as hip-hop CDs (he owns nearly 2,000). And DVDs (100-plus). And games for his Sony PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast (300-plus). And alligator shoes (100-plus pairs). And aqua suits and green suits and beige suits and fruit-punch-colored suits and canary-yellow suits (each of which he wears once and men gives to friends). And the gold-and-diamond baseball pendant that dangles from his beanstalk neck. And sparkling diamond studs, one for each ear. And a six-bedroom house in Tampa, his hometown. And his five vehicles—three trucks, a 2000 Mercedes-Benz $500 and a 2000 Bentley Azure. "The Rolls is fresh," says Bell. " Florida State maroon, with a sweet interior, yo."”

Where he is now: Bell has had a difficult post-baseball life, being arrested for drugs in both 2006 and 2008 and trying unsuccessfully to sell his World Series ring in 2009.

Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Derek B, between Derek Bloogaard, a hockey player who died of a drug overdose, and Derek Bell Racing Driver, a British auto racer. The driver is the first entry when you google Derek Bell.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Eric Bell.

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