NEW YORK - Major League Baseball umpire and Mahoning Valley native Wally Bell, who worked the NL playoff series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals this month, has died. He was 48.
Major League Baseball confirmed Bell's death Monday. According to Tribune Chronicle news partner Channel 33 WYTV, Bell passed away at Northside Hospital of an apparent heart ailment. He was hospitalized late Saturday. He previously went under open-heart surgery in 1999. According to Bell's biography on MLB.com, his proudest moment as a big league umpire was returning to the field after his 1999 surgery.
Bell, a 1983 Austintown Fitch graduate, worked the 2006 World Series and three All-Star games, including this year's event at Citi Field, where he was stationed at first base. A veteran of 21 big league seasons, he also worked four league championship series since joining the major league staff in 1993.
Umpire Wally Bell, left, passed away on Monday at the age of 48. Bell was a native of Austintown.
Local umpire Bill Drier had the pleasure of meeting Bell as he visited the area frequently to talk to local umpires. Because of the talks he heard from Bell, it inspired Drier, a Howland graduate, to pursue a career in umpiring and to attend The Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring in 2008 in Florida.
"Some people want to be LeBron James, I wanted to be a major league umpire like Wally Bell,"?Drier said. "He was my hometown hero."