Monday, March 30, 2009

North Side South Side: George Bell

Leaf 1991 George Bell

Outfielder George Bell played only one season with the Cubs. He was signed as a free agent by general manager Jim Frey for the 1991 season after several successful seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. Bell had established himself as a big-time run producer with the Jays. He was an all-star twice and won the AL MVP in 1987, hitting .308 with 47 home runs and 134 RBI's. He was one of three big name signings by the Cubs that off season (Danny Jackson and Dave Smith were the other two).

When the Cubs signed him he was 31 years old. He had a decent year with the North Siders, slamming 25 home runs and driving in 86 runs. But the team finished under .500, the other two big money players were busts, and GM Jim Frey was fired after the season. Former Sox GM Larry Himes was hired to run the Cubs.

Bowman 1991, George doesn't like to wear his hat

1991 Fleer Ultra, warming up before a game

1991 Upper Deck, Bell wore #11 with the Cubs, a number the team has typically given to infielders (Don Kessinger, Ivan DeJesus).

1991 Stadium Club, finishing up his swing

In the spring of 1992, Himes made a deal with his former team. There was a player he had traded for while with the Sox that Himes was still very high on. He wanted that player for the Cubs, so the new GM sent Bell to the South Side in exchange for pitcher Ken Patterson and his main target, a raw outfielder named Sammy Sosa.

Bell had a decent year with the Sox in 1992, knocking out 25 homers along with 112 RBI's. It looked at the time like the Sox got the better of the deal. But in 1993, slowed by knee injuries, Bell played in only 102 games. His home run total dropped to 13. After the season he announced his retirement and that was it. His career was finished.

1992 Topps Trades, again, George doesn't like to wear his hat

1992 Stadium Club, hatless again

1993 Topps, taking a hack with the Sox

The guy the Cubs in the Bell trade got seem to improve a bit and went on to have some decent years with the Cubs. But I'll save his story for another day.

1 comment:

  1. Short term, I think both teams made out well. Long term, the trade was an embarrassment for both Chicago teams.