The greatest player in Reds history to wear the #25 may come as a name unfamiliar to a majority of the fan base, although he was the architect of one of baseball’s most esteemed families. At the same time, he was an above average outfielder for the Reds in his time here. Gus Bell has been the best to wear the #25 in Reds history.
As much as I would have liked to pick Todd Benzinger for making the catch to end the 1990 World Series, or pick Dmitri Young due to his impressive four-year stretch with the Reds, Bell was at the helm of not only his great career, but many more Bell careers in the future.
In case you haven’t put the pieces together just yet, Gus Bell was the man who started three generations of Bell’s in the Majors. His son, Buddy, was a long-time successful catcher, spending parts of four seasons with the Reds. His grandson, David, also had a long career in the Big Leagues, but is well revered in Reds Country for his work as manager of both the Carolina Mudcats and Louisville Bats.
Even if Gus had a mediocre playing career, he would have been famous enough for installing one of only five families to have three generations play in the Major Leagues. In actuality, Gus had himself one fine career.
After spending his first three years in the bigs as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the eldest Bell found his way to the Queen City. At the ripe age of 24, Bell got to split time between center and right on full-time duty, producing the best season of his career. He batted .300 along with clobbering 30 homeruns and over 100 RBI’s, earning him his first All-Star appearance of his career.
The team did not manage to finish over .500 until 1956 when they were fully entrenched in being the Redlegs amidst Soviet scare. In his first five seasons as a Red/Redleg, Bell made the All-Star team four times.
His last gasp of his long career was in 1959 when he drove in 115 runs, a career-high. Over the course of his nine years in Cincinnati, he batted .288 and had over 1,300 hits. He tagged on with the New York Mets and Milwaukee Braves in his final years.
As mentioned earlier, there was a slew of other candidates up for the honor, but when looking at Bell’s body of work, it seemed obvious. His final year as a member of the Reds saw him make his only World Series appearance, coming up short against the Bronx Bombing Yankees.
Even if he had not produced a strong baseball bloodline, Bell still would have had his own place among Reds lore. The head of the legendary Bell family contributed to the Reds franchise both on and off the field for decades to come.