Albert Belle, an imposing and intimidating figure both at the plate and off the field, played twelve seasons in the big leagues, but the eight seasons he spent as a member of the Cleveland Indians made him a huge, yet controversial, star. In 1995, Belle belted out 50 home runs, tops in the American League. Over his major league career, Belle was a five-time all-star, won the Sliver Slugger award on five occasions and was the AL RBI champion three times.
Belle was a notoriously churlish individual, and his mercurial nature often got the best of him, making him a less-than-admired star in the eyes of many.
The Indians and Belle have had a strained relationship for many years, but that did not prevent Belle from throwing his hat in the ring and requesting an interview during Cleveland’s managerial search last October.
It appears that the Cleveland Indians now are willing to let bygones be bygones with the team’s former surly slugger, at least for one night, as it has been announced that the team has scheduled a promotion featuring a bobblehead giveaway in honor of Albert Belle.
Scheduled for June 1 during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Albert Belle bobblehead will be striking a pose well-known by Belle haters and defenders alike: A bicep flex Belle famously did during the 1995 American League Division Series match-up between the Indians and the Boston Red Sox.
At one point during the series, Red Sox skipper Kevin Kennedy asked umpires to inspect Belle’s bat under the suspicion that it was corked — perhaps in light of the infamous corked bat incident Belle was involved in during the 1994 season – Once Belle was cleared of the charge, Belle was seen in the dugout pointing at his flexed right bicep, demonstrating that he believed his bulging bicep proved that no cork was necessary in order for him to uncork one:
Should be a hoot and a holler on June 1 at Progressive Field. I wonder if Albert Belle will show up, whether he’s invited or not. Let’s hope that he does make an appearance and strikes the infamous pose once again.
[AP report, via The Washington Post]