“I never saw the ‘27 Yankees play,” he said. “But the ‘95 Indians, whoa.”
Belle bolted Cleveland as a free agent after the 1996 season, signing a five-year, $56 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. Four years later, after taking a swing in camp with the Orioles, he was done.
“When I got hurt in 2000 and couldn’t play in 2001, I was pretty devastated,” said Belle, who finished with 381 homers, 1,239 RBIs and a career .295 average. “I didn’t watch any highlights or baseball until Game 7 when the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees. That was it. I watch highlights every now and then. I keep up with it now and watch a few games here and there.”
He hasn’t been back since, but would like to return one day.
Time has changed him, healed him.
This late-winter reunion made him nostalgic, but not regretful.
“I look back and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world to do it all over again,” he said. “There’s some great memories and it’s good to see the guys. I had a nice career. I wish it had been longer, but I’m happy with the way things worked out.”
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