Friday, September 24, 2010

Acid Flashback Friday: George Bell's 47 Home Run Season

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Up until yesterday, it was a record that had stood for nearly 23 years. It was something that was so prolific in Blue Jays history, it felt like nobody would ever even come close to matching it.

Of course, I'm talking about George Bell's 47 home run season in 1987: this week's feature on Acid Flashback Friday.

By no means am I trying to discount what George Bell did back in 1987. It's just that Jose Bautista made 50 home runs look effortless, but Bell had to fight his way tooth and nail to 47 home runs.

One of the obstacles George Bell had to overcome was hitting in Exhibition Stadium. Personally, I'm not familiar whether it was a hitter-friendly park or not, but I imagine those winds off Lake Erie Ontario didn't help the ball carry over the fence. That's evident by his 19 home runs hit at Exhibition Stadium compared to 28 hit on the road.

Also, Bell was single handedly trying to keep the Blue Jays offense afloat the final weeks of the season as the team was decimated with injuries to starters like Tony Fernandez and Ernie Whitt.

He had a phenomenal first half of the season with 29 home runs by the All-Star break, but like most players he lost momentum in the second half and hit 18 home runs the rest of the way. In fact, George Bell was held homer-less in his final 40 at bats of the 1987 season.

George Bell and Jose Bautista may be fellow countrymen from the Dominican Republic, and now they have something else in common: they are the top two single season home run leaders in Blue Jays history.

I'm sure it's tough for George Bell to see that broken record after holding that title for 23 years, but I'm sure there's nobody he'd rather have break it than Jose Bautista.

George Bell's MVP season still lives on as one of the biggest by any player who has ever donned a Blue Jays uniform, and those 47 home runs in 1987 won't soon be forgotten.

7 comments:

  1. Um, Lake Erie? You mean Lake Ontario. And no, I don't think the winds helped.

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  2. Wow, that would explain why I did so badly on those Geography tests in Grade 7.

    I wasn't old enough to experience Exhibition Stadium myself, but maybe that open air park did have something to do with it?

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  3. I'm thinking whatever JoBau ends up with for HR's is going to last more than 23 years. I hope I'm wrong and someone beats it soon on our way to a championship...Soon.

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  4. Mattt, it's definitely going to be a tough mountain to climb. Let's say Bautista finishes with around 52-53 home runs - realistically, when will be ever expect someone to break that record again? It's going to take a guy with a hell of a lot of power to even come close.

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  5. Believe it or not, I own the Louisville Slugger bat that George Bell hit that 47th homer with. My Dad attended a 'Blue Jays Luncheon' with his sister that year, and they were auctioning off some memorabilia there. One of prizes was George's 47th HR bat. My old man held the right ticket number! And he gave it to me .... yes! It still has the pine tar on it (although it has dried up) and if you look closely, you can still see the light blue paint of the logo 'American League Official Baseball' still embedded on the shaft of the bat where he connected with it. The number "11" is on the bottom of the bat in black magic marker. Nice piece to have, for sure. I suppose I'll give it to my own son eventually. That is, when I can stop constantly checking it out and remembering, and savouring that great moment in Jays history ......

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  6. Anon, it's pretty cool that you own that piece of history. I'd love to feature a picture of the bat on a future "Acid Flashback Friday" post if that's cool with you. You can email me at bluejayhunter@gmail.com.

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