Paul Emlyn Bell
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 170 lb.
Paul Bell was a minor league infielder for 3 years, played a year in Germany and has been a regular for the South African national team for almost a decade.
Bell was the son of Michael Bell, a mixed-race player from South Africa's segregated days. With integration, players like Paul Bell developed a shot at joining the national team. He was flown to the US for a try-out by the New York Yankees in 2000. When that did not pan out, he tried out for other clubs and was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bell hit .229/.275/.250 as a utility infielder for the 2000 Helena Brewers. He played for South Africa in the 2000 Olympics, going a miserable 1 for 26 with one walk and 11 strikeouts. He had more errors (3 in 7 games at shortstop) than total bases. He had the lowest average on a 1-6 team that hit .163.
In 2001, Paul batted .292/.324/.323 for the AZL Brewers. In the 2001 Baseball World Cup, the South African shortstop hit .308/.321/.538 as the team's OPS leader in a turn-around from his Olympic performance. He hit the team's only home run in the event, in which they were 1-6. He even outhit long-time Cuban star German Mesa of the Gold Medal winners.
Bell wrapped up his US career in 2002, hitting .263/.333/.316 in 14 games for the Ogden Raptors and .186/.273/.288 in 19 games for the Beloit Snappers. Overall, he had batted .238/.286/.281 in 90 games in the US minor leagues.
In 2003, Bell went to Germany to play for the Cologne Cardinals of Bundesliga. Splitting shortstop duties with American Andy Johnson, Bell went 8 for 17 with a walk, 4 steals, 2 doubles, a triple, 4 runs and 8 RBI. He even pitched a game, allowing 3 runs and 6 hits in 1/3 of an inning. In the playoffs, he was 7 for 12 with 2 doubles and 4 RBI in four games but the team dropped 3 of 4 games. In the 2003 World Port Tournament, Bell hit .226/~.273/.226 with 3 errors in eight games. He led the event with 4 steals in 4 tries.
Bell hit .296/.345/.333 in the 2005 Baseball World Cup and was successful in only one of four attempts to steal. Playing second base with another former minor leaguer, Brett Willemburg, at short, Bell struggled with the glove, making five errors in seven games for a .848 fielding percentage. Willemburg also fielded under .900 for the sloppy South African middle infield defense.
Bell was 3 for 9 with 2 doubles, a walk and two runs in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and led South Africa with 4 RBI in 3 games. He was second to Willemburg in team OPS. Bell was 0 for 4 with a run against Mexico and 0 for 2 with a strikeout against Roger Clemens and the US, but lit up Canada. As the leadoff man for a team that nearly upset Canada (they lost 11-8), the South African second sacker drew a walk from Erik Bedard in the first inning. In the 3rd, he singled against Bedard but was thrown out running by Pete LaForest. In the 5th, Bell was hit by a Paul Quantrill pitch and scored on a Willemburg double. In the 7th, Bell doubled home Ian Butcher while facing Mike Meyers. Finally, in the 8th, he tacked on a 3-run double off of Chris Reitsma for a 8-7 South Africa lead.
In the 2007 Baseball World Cup, Bell hit .240/.269/.280 as South Africa's second baseman. They were 0-7.