By Migue Guerra
Cuban baseball has brought many stars to the game. There have been outstanding players who have stood out inside and outside of Cuba, bringing talent from the Island to everyone’s attention.
Without fear of being mistaken, we can mention the name of Alexei Bell, whom many people consider one of the most all-around players that have performed in the National Series.
In 14 seasons in Cuban baseball, he left a lifetime .320 batting average, with 1,036 hits in 3,242 at bats, 158 homers, 201 doubles and 35 triples, while scoring 708 runs and driving in 697. These numbers show his power and contact.
His base stealing effectiveness is 72.1%, with 132 steals in 183 tries. This proves his remarkable intelligence and speed. On the other hand, he had a fielding percentage of .977, with 43 errors in 1,830 chances, and 85 assists, which prove his defensive prowess as well.
On April 2, 2021, we were fortunate to have the presence of Alexei “Tato” Bell in Show de Swing Completo, our night show on our YouTube Channel.
Bell told us how he lived the 47th National Series (2007-2008), in which he broke the mythical record of 30 homeruns, held by all-time great Orestes Kindelán. Bell was, however, the first to do it in a National Series, as Kindelán had done it in a Selective Series.
With 31 homers, you broke a historic record held until then by Orestes Kindelán, how did you live all that?
“That year, I started with a homer against Industriales. I was going well, and home runs were coming, no matter how I hit the ball, it would carry.”
“The first day I said that the year was going to be very good for Santiago, and mainly for myself, the baseball was going to influence a lot, because it was a type that carried.”
“Time went by, and I said: ‘I would like to end this year with 20-20 (stals and homers) for the second time.’ But home runs started coming out, I was not used to hitting too much to right field, and I started hitting opposite field and got shots out of the park.”
“Besides, I was stealing bases, and we were always free from the first inning to the sixth or the seventh.”
“But when they started telling me that I could break the home run and RBI record at the same time, then I started feeling pressure. I said, ‘Gee, so many games left and this dude comes and tells me this.’ Someone in the dugout told me.
“When I hit the 30th homer in Granma, the right fielder was Alexquemer Sánchez, who was in his rookie year. I got the blast against Leandro Martínez, and the ball hit Alexquemer’s glove and left the park. Later, the 31st blast left the park through center field. In that one, I did stand at the plate and looked when I hit the ball, because I could feel when the ball was going to carry.”
“That day, Kindelán hugged me and congratulated me, but I did not chase that goal specifically. Yet, I was very happy to get there.”