It is former Blue Jays outfielder Derek Bell birthday today. He turns 54 today.
Bell was a 2nd round draft pick for the Blue Jays in 1987. He moved up the Jays system pretty quickly, made it to the Jays in late June of 1991, played a few games, was sent back down, and came back out as a September call-up. He hit .143/.314/.143.
The following season Derek had the 4th outfielder role. He played in 61 games, hitting .242/.324/.354, with 2 home runs and 15 RBI. He even had 3 plate appearances and 2 walks in our playoff run to our first World Series win.
Unfortunately, we had a formidable lineup to break into back in those days. Joe Carter, Devon White, Candy Maldonado, and Dave Winfield played DH. If we weren’t in ‘win now’ mode, maybe it would have been better to keep Derek over Candy, but things worked out well.
Near the year of spring training, in 1993, the Jays traded him (and someone named Stoney Briggs) to the Padres for Darrin Jackson, who was older and more established, maybe a little better defensively, to take over the 4th outfielder job. I remember not being very impressed with the trade. Jackson wasn’t much of a player. I thought Bell had much more potential, but the point of getting Jackson wasn’t to get someone to carry us. It was to get someone that wouldn’t cost us games. In more than two months, Jackson played 46 games and hit .216/.250/.347.
The good thing Jackson did for us was to help get Tony Fernandez back. The Jays traded Jackson to be Mets to get Tony back to fill the hole at shortstop. Fernandez hit .306/.361/.442, played good defense, and we won another World Series.
Bell? He played a couple of seasons with the Padres, and then they traded him to the Astros as part of an 11-player deal. He was an Astro for five seasons, then spent a season with the Mets and Pirates to end his career.
In his 11 seasons, Derek Bell hit .276/.336/.421 with 134 home runs, 668 RBI, and 170 stolen bases, quite a nice career. However, we really could have used him in the later ‘90s. His best season was with the Astros in 1998 when he hit .314/.364/.490, with 22 home runs and 108 RBI. He was part of the Killer B’s with Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.
There was a funny story about Fan Appreciation Day in 1992. They announced that a lucky fan would win a new car between innings, and then Joe Carter drove Derek’s jeep onto the field.
Happy birthday, Derek. I hope it is a good one.
Dalton Pompey turns 30 today.
I would like to get a look into an alternate timeline where Dalton, given the center field job in 2015, doesn’t start the season in a slump. Dalton began the season and had troubles at the plate and took those troubles into the field. Kevin Pillar started the season slugging and was Kevin Pillar with the glove. Soon Kevin was in center, and Dalton was in the minors.
Then Pillar hit .181/.237/.257 in May. Had Pillar hit like that in April and Dalton hit at all in April, their respective careers might have been different.
Dalton had 159 at-bats with the Jays, hitting .221/.289/.372 with 8 steals.
Dalton played in the Angels’ minor league system in 2021.
For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’
Happy Birthday, Dalton. Wishing you the best.