Should Albert Belle be in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame? Some have been asking that question which means Belle had himself quite a professional baseball career. Belle’s baseball performance sometimes was overshadowed by his antics both on and off the field. Belle was a five-time all-star but was also one of the toughest guys to figure out.
Albert Belle’s Major League Baseball career
Albert Belle was one of the most dominant players in Major League Baseball during his time. While dominant, he was also very consistent. Belle led the American League in RBIs in three out of four seasons from 1993-96. For five straight seasons between 1993-1997, Belle was an American League All-Star.
From 1994-96, Belle finished in the top 3 for AL MVP. In 1995, he became the first player in Major League Baseball history to have more than 50 home runs and 50 doubles in the same season. During the strike-shortened MLB season of 1994, Belle drove in 101 runs in 106 games and hit .357. He showed he was much more than a power hitter, batting over .300 four times and finishing with a career batting average of .295.
In 1995, Belle signed a five-year, $55 million free-agent contract with the Chicago White Sox, making him the highest-paid players in baseball. In 1998, he had his first 200-hit season and drove in a career-high 152 runs while hitting .328. He later signed a deal with the Baltimore Orioles, but his career was cut short at age 34 because of a degenerative hip condition. He finished his career with 381 home runs.
From Joey to Albert
Albert Belle came into the league as Joey Belle. Belle’s life was marred by alcohol and anger issues. After emerging from a rehab stint in the early 90s, Belle wanted to be known as Albert instead of “Joey,” the nickname for his middle name “Jojuan,” because it was a symbol of a new beginning after the rehab.
Belle’s anger issues sometimes carried over onto the field. It happened early in his career when a fan named Jeff Pilar mocked Belle, calling him Joey and inviting him to a keg party after Belle just got out of rehab. Belle took the baseball he was holding and fired it off the chest of Pillar, who was sitting in the stands. He was suspended for the incident.
Belle also had a disdain for the media. In 1996, Belle was fined $50,000 for a tirade against a television reporter. His clashes with the media may have even cost Belle the AL MVP in 1995 when he finished second to Boston’s Mo Vaughn. Belle led the league in homers, RBIs, runs scored, and total bases. He was ahead of Vaughn in every significant offensive category except RBIs, where they both had 126.
Life after baseball
Albert Belle’s troubles continued in 2018 when he was arrested and charged with two counts of indecent exposure and two counts of DUI. The charges were later dropped.
Belle still follows Major League Baseball and he recently weighed in on how the league should handle its current situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“I’m always crunching numbers,” Belle said recently. “I think they should play a 112-game season. If they kick everything off on the Memorial Day weekend (May 25), that would be perfect. You have 30 teams, 15 in the American League and 15 in the National League. If each AL team plays each other four times at home and four times on the road that’s 112 games. You’d have the same thing in the National League.
“Forget about the interleague play. Forget about the All-Star Game. Just play. You’d just have a mini-marathon. We could tweak the schedule, turn back the clock and have some fun with it.”