When Bell won a spot as the 25th man on the Indians’ Opening Day roster in 1995, he put his family in rare company. The son of Indians and Rangers third baseman Buddy Bell and the grandson of Reds outfielder Gus Bell, David made the Bells the second family in baseball history (after Ray, Bob, and Aaron and Bret Boone) to field three generations of major leaguers.
From the time David was six, he often traveled with his father on road trips, and took the opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade from his Gold Glove-winning parent. “When I was growing up, I always thought my Dad was the best player I ever saw,” David said. “No matter how good a player I turn out to be, I probably would never think I was as good as him.”
While David may not have possessed the offensive talents of Buddy and Gus (who died in 1995 not long after his seeing his grandson reach the big leagues), it was his ability to provide a steady glove at any infield spot that kept him in the major leagues. But not until he had bounced from Cleveland to St. Louis and back to Cleveland did he find a home in Seattle, where the Indians sent him in exchange for Joey Cora in late August 1998.
The following year Bell posted surprising numbers at the plate after a season-ending injury to Mariners’ rookie infielder Carlos Guillen gave him an everyday spot in the lineup. Bell knocked 21 homers (one more than his father’s career high) while batting .268 with 78 RBIs and 92 runs scored. The addition of second baseman Mark McLemore and the return of Guillen cut into Bell’s playing time in 2000, but he still contributed 11 home runs and 47 RBIs in 454 at-bats for a Mariners’ club that lost to the Yankees in the ALCS.