Miami Marlins baseball player Heath Bell shares life’s lessons with Carmel Valley students at Ashley Falls

Heath Bell with Ashley Falls fifth graders. Photos/Karen Billing

By Karen Billing

Give former Padres pitcher Heath Bell the opportunity to speak to a class full of children and he will attack it with the same enthusiasm he gives to running to the mound in a Major League Baseball All Star game (Google it: It starts with a full-out sprint from the bullpen and ends with a slide). Bell was funny, engaging and open with fifth graders at Ashley Falls on a visit on Jan. 18.

Parent Nina Detrow won the opportunity with Bell, now on the Miami Marlins, in a charity auction and shared it with Ashley Falls fifth graders who, this spring, will use baseball statistics in their math class.

Bell talked to the students about the importance of school, accomplishing goals, his path to the major leagues and took the time to sign endless autographs.

“My father took me to an Angel game when I was 5 years old,” said Bell, who was born in Oceanside and re-located to Orange County. “I fell in love with baseball. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.”

Bell wasn’t always a star on his team throughout the years. He said he was just “average” on his little league and high school squads, so it took a lot of work to improve.

His parents made him do homework before he could play outside so he would do it as soon as possible—sometimes even doing homework during lunchtime so he could get to practicing.

Bell told the kids he loved being outside. Items that crashed through the windows of his home included a hockey puck and a soccer ball, and he once dented the family car with a basketball.

If his father wasn’t available for a game of catch, Bell would throw balls against his wooden garage door. He’d draw a strike zone on the door and hurl wet tennis balls. The wet balls would leave a mark and Bell could chart where his pitches had landed.

As hard as he worked at baseball, he worked even harder in school.

Heath Bell with Liz and Nina Detrow.

“I crushed the books so I could go to college and try to get drafted,” Bell said, noting he was the only person in his family to go to college.

“School’s fun,” Bell said. “Listen to your teachers, hang out with your friends. Do your homework right away when you come home…Teachers are cool, they can be your friends. My elementary school teachers came to see me play at Petco Park.”

Playing at the community college level, he still was an average player but he said the coaches liked him because he “tried his best every single day.”

An open tryout landed him on a minor league team and he spent nine, long years at the minor league level, his wife begging him to get a real job to support their growing family.

But Bell never gave up on his major league dream and it finally became a reality in 2004 when he was called up to the New York Mets. His first career outing was against the Padres.

He said he still remembers the huge smile he had on his face walking from his hotel to the stadium, thinking, “I’m in the major leagues.”

“I don’t know how I stuck it out,” Bell said. “My dream came true and I’ve been blessed ever since then. I was never supposed to be doing what I’m doing right now.”

“Then why are you?” asked one inquisitive fifth grader.

“A lot of hard work, dedication and never giving up,” Bell said, not missing a beat.

Some more questions Bell fielded from the kids:

How many homeruns have you hit?

“I don’t hit home runs,” Bell said.

Bell is still without a hit in his major league career.

The fastest you’ve ever pitched?

99 miles per hour.

Best friends in baseball?

Padres catcher Nick Hundley, Marlin Hanley Ramirez, Derek Jeter of the Yankees and new Angel player Albert Pujlos.

What’s your best pitch?

“It’s not a fast ball, change-up or curveball. My best pitch is strike three and my favorite one is the one they swing and miss,” Bell said.

Most embarrassing moment?

Bell said he tries not to let things embarrass him, but it would probably be the time there was a bunt and he dove for it, flipping the ball to first base before he hit the ground. He thought it looked good but then-Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez told him he looked like “a beached whale.”

“Not a top 10 play on ESPN?” Bell said he asked Gonzalez.

Bell said that “Gonzo” replied: “Maybe the blooper reel.”

What Bell most cared about: He got the out.

Related posts:

  1. Top Santa Fe Christian baseball player takes pride in ‘grunt work’
  2. Carmel Valley musician brings inspirational life lessons to CD
  3. Ashley Falls students get creative with fall fest
  4. Carmel Valley teen tells of life-changing Rwanda trip
  5. Ashley Falls students build scarecrows

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=31054

Posted by Staff on Jan 27, 2012. Filed under Carmel Valley, News, carmel valley. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Archives

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

LA JOLLA NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RSS RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

  • Community input received on proposed health club and pool facility in Rancho Santa Fe
    About 100 Rancho Santa Fe residents showed up on Friday, Oct. 17, for a health club and pool community meeting, the last outreach before ballots were mailed on Monday, Oct. 20. On the ballots, members are being asked whether the Rancho Santa Fe Association should spend $350,000 on a professional planning phase for the potential new community amenity. RSF Ass […]
  • Czech violin duo to perform at Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe
    In cooperation with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic, the Czech School San Diego hosts a free classical violin concert by internationally recognized Czech violin player Jaroslav Svecený and his daughter, Julie Svecená, who are on a tour of the United States. The concert will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Village Church. The father-daughter duo will […]
  • Rancho Santa Fe weekly sports update
    Torrey Pines defeated Canyon Crest Academy 4-3 in a Palomar League opener for both teams on Oct. 9. Alayna Tomlinson and Farah Farjood each scored two goals to lead the Falcons. Samantha “Sammy” Cirino added one goal and one assist. […]