NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY)- The bell rings once again for the Norfolk Tides, but not for long. Pitcher Heath Bell likely made his last appearance this week at Harbor Park. “My whole life, all I’ve wanted to do was play in the big leagues. I’ve had teachers and coaches tell me I could not do this and I could not do that. I’ve never tried to prove them wrong,” said Bell.
Bell began the season with the Tampa Bay Rays, but struggled. In 13 appearances. He allowed 24 hits and 8 walks in 17 innings. Not good. So the Rays released Bell last month. “I’ve bounced around from team to team in the last couple years and all I’ve tried to do was try to help those teams win, unfortunately I cannot find a home,” added Bell.
But the 36-year-old found a temporary home back in Norfolk, 8 years after he last wore the Tides uniform. “Who would have known that I would come back to Norfolk, Virginia and see all those friends that I have known here before.”
Bell’s three-week contract that he signed with the Baltimore Orioles is up on Saturday. Bell says that if the Orioles or some other team does not come calling, there is a really good change he will return to San Diego to be with is wife and four kids, but he wants to use this opportunity to teach his kids a lesson in perseverance. “The biggest thing I want to show my kids is that your going to get knocked off your horse, but not everybody is going to get back up and try to ride that horse. And I think I am secretly trying to teach my oldest one and my ten-year old that you cannot always be the best and when you’re not, you’ve got to keep working hard,” said Bell.
A three-time Major League All-Star with 11 years playing in the Majors, Bell has beat the odds his entire career and hopes to add one last chapter to a great story. “You know I’ve had a long hard road. I was not drafted. I played varsity baseball only has a senior. I walked on at college and in pro baseball. Like I said, nobody said I could do what I’m doing. Guys are probably saying, dude just go home, but I’m not ready to go home,” said Bell.
If Bell does return to his family in San Diego, he said he will continue working out and get ready for spring training next season in hopes of finding a new team. If no team comes calling he would like to get into coaching.