Today, August 27, 2022, is the 71st birthday of former Texas Rangers great, Buddy Bell. Bell was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame in 2004 as part of the second-year group of inductees.
Many have argued that Bell should have been given more consideration for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately for him, he happened to be playing at the same time as arguably the best two third basemen of all-time: Mike Schmidt and George Brett. The HOF voters have historically been tough on third basemen, so when he stacked up third at the position in his era, it made it an uphill battle. Not playing on winning teams and being part of small market clubs throughout his career didn’t help his cause either.
Texas Rangers great Buddy Bell turns 71
Buddy was a defensive first player. While a member of the Rangers he won all of his six Gold Glove awards in consecutive years from 1979-1984. He was also a four time All-Star during those years in Arlington, to go along with his All-Star selection in 1973 while playing with the then, Cleveland Indians.
Bell ranks 16th all-time in fWAR for third basemen with 61.7. Over the span of his 18 years in the big leagues, he played in 2,405 games, had 10,009 plate appearances, hit 201 HR, had a batting line of .279/.341/.406 and an OPS+ of 109. To say that Bell was a contact hitter would be an understatement. Even with all of those plate appearances throughout his career, he boasted a miniscule 7.8% strikeout rate to go along with his 8.4% walk rate. He went up to the plate swinging, and rarely did he miss. He didn’t have a ton of power, but he does have 2,514 hits to his name.
Playing the game hard was Bell’s style. His defensive skills are ones to be studied and emulated, and many a player today would be well served to at least take his approach at the plate to heart as they get down in the count.
Buddy Bell will always be remembered fondly in Texas Rangers franchise history
I’m not exactly sure why, but Buddy Bell was, and still is, my favorite all-time player. My amazing wife bought me a powder blue throwback Bell #25 jersey a few summers ago, and I love to wear it for special occasions. Maybe it was how he played the game hard, or maybe it was the fact that we both sported long blonde locks back in the day (although he has been able to hang on to more of his than I have of mine!).
I was extremely young when Buddy was a member of the Rangers, but he stuck out to me and will forever be my guy. The day that he was traded from the Rangers to the Cincinnati Reds in 1985, I was in grandparents living room, and I cried. As a 7-year-old, it was the first time that I saw the business side of the game in a real way. Why would we trade someone that meant so much to the organization and so much to me? Reality was Bell was on the backside of his career and we had already seen his best work. In 1989, Bell returned to Arlington to finish out the last few games of his career.
Buddy Bell is celebrating his 71st birthday today, and we should all celebrate one of the best players to don the Texas Rangers uniform. There are still plenty of Buddy fans out there, because every time that I wear that jersey of his, I get so many wonderful comments. Thanks for the memories, Buddy, and Ranger fans everywhere wish you a very happy birthday.