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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Better Know An Umpire: Wally Bell

Illustration for article titled Better Know An Umpire: Wally Bell

Welcome to Better Know An Umpire, an effort to educate ourselves on the human elements who have ultimate decision-making power over some 2,500 Major League Baseball games a year. (All cumulative statistics are through the 2011 season, unless otherwise stated.)


Name: Wally Bell

Uniform number: 35

Age: 47

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 240 pounds

First year as MLB umpire: 1992

Total MLB games worked through 2011: 2,492 (home plate: 644)

Previous experience: In­ter­na­tion­al League, Triple-A Alliance, Do­min­i­can Republic League, Southern League, Carolina League, South Atlantic League, New York-Penn League


Career ejections: 40

No-hitters called: None

Over/under record (1999-2011): 167-196

Hated in: Chicago, Boston, Houston

Notable alleged blown calls: White Sox-Indians, August 16, 2011; Astros-Padres, October 3, 1998 (NLDS, Game 3); Red Sox-Yankees, July 4, 2008.

Claim to fame: Worked home plate at Shea Stadium on September 21, 2001, a game remembered for Mike Piazza's dramatic home run and Steve Karsay's subsequent ejection.

Scouting report from Major League Umpires' Performance, 2007-2010, by Andy Goldblatt:

His career ejection rate is 1.6 percent, more than 25 percent lower than average. ... Bell's game-calling stats from 2007 through 2009 were all within one percent of the major league norm ... but given the uncharacteristic nature of his 2010, it would come as no surprise if he shows more generosity to hitters in the future.


Scouting report from a random Internet commenter:


Average K/9 (2011): 14.4

Average BB/9 (2011): 6.0

Sample PITCHf/x strike zone: September 27, 2011. Bell called balls and strikes the day before the Red Sox capped off their incredible late-season collapse. The Red Sox won 8-7, but it was a stressful night for both clubs, as all the red outside the strike zone indicates.

Illustration for article titled Better Know An Umpire: Wally Bell

True fact: Had open-heart surgery in 1999 and now does charity work for the American Heart Association.


On umpiring: "I don't really want to be here at midnight, but that's our job. That's what you do."

Strike 3 call:


To check out other installments of Better Know An Umpire, click here.

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