Wally Bell had just worked the National League Divisional Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals last week, and on Monday the umpire was dead of an apparent heart attack.
The office of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced Bell’s death, saying the 48-year-old died in his home state of Ohio.
“All of us at Major League Baseball are in mourning tonight regarding the sudden passing of Wally Bell,” Selig said in a statement. “I always enjoyed seeing Wally, who was a terrific umpire and such an impressive young man. On behalf of our 30 clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Wally’s family, fellow umpires and his many friends throughout the game.”
Wally Bell reportedly had not been feeling well over the weekend and schedule an appointment to see doctors at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday.
Bell had a resume that included three All-Star games and the 2006 World Series. He was a 21-year MLB veteran who also worked four league championship series and seven divisional series since breaking into the league in 1993.
The umpires preparing for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series said they found out about Bell’s death just before they took the field.
“We had to regroup rather quickly and put our concentration where it needed to be,” Gerry Davis, crew chief for the NL championship series, said after the game. “We kept telling each other that that’s the way Wally would have wanted it, and we know that that’s really true. One of the things that we shared in the locker room afterwards is that I’m sure he’s very proud right now.”
In 1999, Wally Bell had quintuple bypass surgery after doctors found that two of his arteries were 100 percent blocked, two were 80 percent blocked, and another was 70 percent blocked. He returned to action 11 weeks later.