"It's nobody's fault," said the genial Bell, sitting by his locker. "I knew this might happen when I asked to be traded. Trades are hard to come by these days." Relief pitcher Dave Stewart stopped by with two baseball cards for Bell to sign. One was a current father-son card of Buddy and his dad. Bell pointed to the picture of his father in one of those sleeveless Cincinnati jerseys of the 1950s. "Now there's a nice-looking Reds uniform," he said. He sounded wistful.
Official word came at 11:45 a.m. Friday in a phone call from Bergesch. The deal had gone through. Bell caught a 1:05 p.m. flight to Cincinnati, where his 56-year-old father—ironically, a full-time Ranger scout—met him, and a press conference officially introduced him. "I said to my wife as we came to the stadium," said Gus Bell on Friday night at Riverfront Stadium, " 'Isn't this strange? Our son's going to be playing in there.' "
After some razzing from his teammates for rolling his pant legs too high ("Nooooo, Buddy," scolded Tony Perez, shaking his finger), Bell had a single in four at bats on Friday as the Reds won over the Phillies 3-2. He walked twice and scored twice in Saturday's 10-6 loss and tripled in a run in Sunday's 7-6 win. The Reds, only five games out in the NL West, seemed excited about their new addition.
"Excited? The night we got him I couldn't sleep," said Reds second baseman Ron Oester. "I was tossing and turning, thinking ' Buddy Bell, Buddy Bell.' "
Gus Bell couldn't get over his good fortune. He stood by the batting cage on Friday night looking out at his son. "He's got to hold the fort for another 10 years or so," he said with a smile. "Until one of the grandchildren can come along and take over."