Bell stepping down as Royals skipper

By: Dick Kaegel /
By: Dick Kaegel /

MINNEAPOLIS -- Buddy Bell has decided to step down as Royals manager at the end of this season.
Bell made the surprising announcement Wednesday afternoon at the Metrodome, where the Royals are playing the Twins.

He will continue to manage the club for the last two months of the season and then remain with the Royals as a special assistant to general manager Dayton Moore.

Bell, 55, is in his second full season as the Royals' manager. He took over on May 31, 2005, succeeding Tony Pena, who had resigned in the last year of his contract.

Late last season, Bell was diagnosed as having a cancerous growth behind his left tonsil. He missed the final 10 games of the season to have surgery. There has been no indication the cancer has recurred, but apparently the episode prompted Bell to reevaluate his future.

Bell, son of former big-league outfielder Gus Bell, presides over a large family. He and his wife, Gloria, have five children, including baseball-playing sons David, Michael and Ricky, and daughters Kristi and Traci, who has Down's syndrome.

As Bell made his decision public, his three-season record with the Royals was 152-228. His first two teams finished last and his current club also is fifth but, in the last two months, there were indications of a turnaround.

The Royals finished June and July with winning records, the first time the franchise has experienced back-to-back winning months since 2003. Escaping last place in the American League Central has become a real possibility.

Bell's decision obviously will trigger speculation about his successor, and Moore will have ample time to screen candidates. Possibilities will include bench coach Billy Doran, former Royals star Frank White, Triple-A Omaha manager Mike Jirschele and former Major League managers such as Joe Girardi.

Whenever the Royals are looking for a manager, Hall of Famer George Brett's name always emerges, but he's not believed to be interested in such a commitment. Brett is currently the Royals' vice president of baseball operations.

The Royals will be looking for a manager who is not only skilled in running a ballgame but one who can communicate well with young players.

Patience, obviously, will be a virtue, and Bell has shown that with the emerging Royals. He has been able to withstand the mistakes of inexperience while molding an attitude geared toward the pride of winning.

Bell, who previously managed the Detroit Tigers (1996-98) and the Colorado Rockies (2000-2002), is three victories shy of No. 500. His career record is 497-690.

An outstanding third baseman, Bell played 18 years in the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros. He was an All-Star five times and won six Gold Gloves. His career average was .279 with 201 home runs.

Bell came to the Royals after serving two-plus seasons as the Indians' bench coach. He also was on the Cleveland staff in 1994-95 during the managerial tenure of Mike Hargrove, who resigned as Seattle Mariners manager on July 1.

He also worked in the front office for the Indians, Reds and Chicago White Sox.

Bell was able to affect an improvement in the Royals in each of his seasons. He took over a 2005 club that was 13-37 (.260) and guided them to a 43-69 (.384) mark. In 2006, the club started 16-47 (.254) but then went 46-53 (.475). This year, after being 19-35 (.352), the Royals were 28-24 (.538) in the last two months.

He is the 14th full-time manager of the Royals in their 39-year history.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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