Wallace Robert Bell (born January 10, 1965 in Ravenna, Ohio) is an umpire in Major League Baseball who has worked in the National League from 1992 to 1999 and throughout both major leagues since 2000. He wears the number 35 on his uniform. Since reaching the major leagues, Bell has umpired in one World Series (2006), two All-Star Games (1997, 2000), five Division Series (1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2006), and three League Championship Series (2000, 2001, 2005).
Bell graduated from Austintown Fitch High School in 1983. He started to umpire Little League and summer league games when he was 17. He had a friend, Brian O'Nora, who went to umpiring school the next year, and Bell decided to join him. O'Nora also became a major league umpire. Bell did a lot of things so he could become an umpire. Two things he did were studying the rule book and working out to get in the best shape for umpiring school. He spent eight years in the minor leagues before finally receiving the privilege of umpiring in the major leagues. He umpired in the International League, Triple-A Alliance, Dominican Republic League, Southern League, Carolina League, South Atlantic League, and New York-Penn League when he was in the minors. He has said that he always had a thought of quitting when he was in the minors because the pay was terrible and he was away from home for extended periods, but that he's glad he stuck it out. Bell was very excited and scared to umpire his first major league game, and couldn't believe he was actually umpiring a major league game. He was scared because he didn't have a contract yet, and knew he had to umpire a good game to earn one. He eventually received his contract in 1993. He currently is one of the few major league umpires who goes down on one knee to call a strike.
One of his proudest moments was when he returned to the baseball diamond after having open heart surgery in 1999. He has noted that he is fortunate enough that he doesn't have to have an off season job as he receives a salary of $260,000. His favorite position to work at his home plate, and his favorite stadium to umpire at is PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bell believes that Major League Baseball should have some type of background checks on umpires, because it ensures the safety of employees. He has said that the best thing about his job is that he gets the winter off and gets to spend a lot of time with his children in the off-season. He thinks the worst thing about being an umpire is that you travel so much and you are away from your family for a long period of time. He looks up to all the other umpires in the league because he believes that you can learn anything from your peers, especially the people who do your job no matter how long they have been doing it.
The most interesting game that Bell has ever umpired was when he officiated the first game in New York City after the September 11, 2001 attacks. He mentioned that it was great to see the country come together through a sporting event. The most interesting play he has ever umpired happened in Cleveland in 2007 when they turned a triple play, from the third baseman to the second baseman to the first baseman. Bell thought it was interesting because he had never seen a triple play go around the horn like that. The 2006 World Series was one of his proudest moments. Bell wears number 35 as he begins his 15th season as a major league umpire in 2008. His 2008 crew includes Laz Diaz, John Hirschbeck, and Paul Schrieber. He has worked with crew chief Hirschbeck for eight consecutive years. Bell is one of the few umpires who calls strikes on one knee.