Albert Belle is first-time eligible for baseball's Hall of Fame, and he seemed a lock - despite his surly attitude toward the media - before a degenerative hip condition prematurely ended his career. No right-handed hitter was more feared than Belle, and not just by reporters. Nobody was more prolific driving in runs. He was a dominant force, but it's doubtful that he stayed around long enough to warrant induction. Feel free to disagree.
I'll never forget his last spring training, and the last time we saw him as an Oriole. It was almost sad to see him limping around the bases at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, grimacing with every uneven step, clearly unable to play anymore. Almost sad because, well, the man made it hard to feel sorry for him. He was beyond mean at times, completely unreasonable, impossible to handle. ...
But Belle did seem to warm up to the rest of the media shortly before abruptly leaving the team. He finally learned to say hello just as it was time to say goodbye.
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