With his family in town, Twins pay tribute to late bench coach Mike Bell

Mike and David Bell stood side by side at Target Field, drinking in each other’s success. David Bell, the Reds’ manager, had led his team to a playoff berth over the weekend, clinching a spot in the postseason while in Minneapolis. Mike Bell, the Twins’ bench coach, had just watched his team secure its second consecutive American League Central title.

It’s a memory from late September that David Bell recalled to a crowd of fans Monday night as his voice quivered and cracked with emotion during a pregame tribute to his late brother. It’s also a memory that Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey recalled earlier in the day.

“Seeing David here again tonight with his family being here on the field, it jogs a lot of those memories — good memories of Mike,” Falvey said. “A lot of really good ones, but also a recognition that he’s just not here and that’s really hard.”

Months after that moment, Mike Bell was diagnosed with kidney cancer. By late March, he was gone at just 46, a loss felt around the baseball world, and felt particularly hard in the Twins’ and Reds’ dugouts.

With the Reds back in town — and on the club’s annual cancer awareness night —  the Twins hosted 13 members of the Bell family on Monday, including Mike’s wife, Kelly and their three children, Luke, Mikayla and Madeline, as they honored his memory.

It was an idea that Falvey said he and team president Dave St. Peter had discussed in March as they headed out to Arizona for Bell’s funeral service.

“The Twins have been amazing. They have treated Mike and our family as family. They’ve been incredibly supportive,” David Bell said pregame over Zoom. “It’s a special night. … I think it’s part of the process for our family.”

Members of the Twins’ coaching staff embraced the Bell family before the ceremony, handing them bouquets of flowers. Falvey and general manager Thad Levine presented the family with a check on behalf of the Twins to GiGi’s Playhouse Twin Cities, an organization with which Bell worked closely, in his honor. The Twins also presented the family with a jersey signed by members of the 2021 club.

Both executives along with manager Rocco Baldelli, first base coach Tommy Watkins and center fielder Byron Buxton shared video tributes, explaining how much Mike had come to mean to them during his time in the organization. The Twins wear black “MB,” patches on their shoulder sleeves, and Buxton talked of tapping his patch, reminding himself that “he’s there in spirit.”

Bell was hired to be Baldelli’s right-hand man ahead of the 2020 season. The son of longtime major league coach and executive Buddy Bell, and the grandson of Gus Bell, a member of the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame, Mike Bell was a baseball lifer with managerial aspirations of his own.

Mike Bell had a 13-year professional playing career, reaching the majors briefly in 2000 with the Reds. He spent 13 years with the Diamondbacks, many of them as an executive overseeing player development, before joining the Twins and making a lasting impact in just a season.

“He made all us, I think, want to be a little more like Mike,” Baldelli said. “I think we all want to be there for the people next to us in the way that he was. He was a wonderful man and he’ll always be in my heart.”

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