All-Time Indians: Gary Bell

Name: Wilbur Gary Bell Position: Relief Pitcher
Nick Name: Ding Dong Number: 39
Tribe Time: 1958-1967 DOB: 11/17/1936
Accolades: 2 Time All-Star (1960,1966), Top 3 Rookie of the Year 1958
Best Season (1965) 6 5 0.545 3.04 60 0 0 0 17 103.0 86 43 35 7 50 86 1.32 7.5 0.218
Career 96 92 0.511 3.71 419 169 53 5 45 1,550.1 1,350 713 639 168 670 1,104 1.30 6.4 0.225

Gary Bell is generally considered the greatest relief pitcher in Indians history, if for no other reason that the fact that he has done it the most. After three years as a starting pitcher, Bell was converted to the teams closer in 1962. He struggled some that season, earning 12 saves, but giving up a 4.26 ERA and a WHIP of 1.40. The next year he was used more in middle relief and had a great season, allowing just 39 runs in 58 appearances including 7 starts. Bell also picked up 8 wins to go with his five saves that year. For the next three years Bell was used as closer and late reliever and was generally successful, ending his relief years with 45 career saves and a 3.16 ERA. He also struck out more batters out of the bullpen with a 7.2 K/9 compared to his starting average of 5.8. In his final year with the Indians in 1967 he was switched back to full time starter and made 9 starts before he was traded to Boston for Don Demeter and Tony Horton. After he left the Indians he was never quite as good as he was with the Tribe and he switched teams a few times, including playing in the only season of the Seattle Pilots. 

All-Time with the Tribe, Bell is in the top five in games pitched and home runs allowed and is in the top 10 for walks and strike outs. As a pitcher who was primarily a reliever, he is first in innings pitched, games played, wins, hits allowed, runs allowed, walks and strike outs. The next closest in most of these numbers is Steve Gromek, who was a starter for a larger percentage of his career than Bell, but still had more than 200 less innings and 18 less wins. He also struck out 500 less batters. There wasn’t much glory associated with the time that Bell was on the team, or much recognition, but he deserves to be recognized as the first great Indians relief pitcher.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of and has been since its inception in 2011. He also writes for The Outside Corner and the Comeback and hosts the Tribe Time Now podcast. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians. Follow on twitter @BurningRiverBB