Football and baseball star,
On a plaque at Washington & Lee
University in its athletic Hall of Fame is the following tribute to Brian, who
was inducted there in 1994:
Brian Bell ’49 was a star
football and baseball player for the Generals and one of the most exciting
athletes in school history. In football Bell excelled as a two-way back
and was a dangerous return man. Bell earned all-state honors his senior
year after leading the team in rushing, scoring, and interceptions. He
still holds school records for kickoff return average in a season (27.2)
and career (24.5). His most memorable return was a 94-yard touchdown
against the University of Richmond in 1947. The runback was aided by a
photographer’s flash that apparently caused two Richmond defenders to
tackle his lead blocker. The play was named as one of the Associated
Press’ sports oddities of the year.
In baseball Bell was a deadly
hitter and had a tremendous combination of power and speed. He earned
all-state honors as a first baseman in 1947, 1948, and 1949, and served as
captain of the 1949 W&L nine. Bell enjoyed one of the most prolific
seasons in school history in 1948. He batted .419 while leading the
Southern Conference with six home runs and 22 stolen bases. His 22 stolen
bases still stands as the school record.
Following graduation Bell played
professional football briefly with the Washington Redskins and Detroit
Lions. He was on the verge of signing a $5,000 bonus contract with the New
York Giants baseball organization when he suffered a knee injury that
ended his professional sports career. The Washington native then worked in
the newspaper business for 11 years with the Washington Star and the
Associated Press. He joined the Foreign Service of the United States
Information Agency in 1960 and went on to a distinguished diplomatic
career before retiring in 1987.
That might seem like more than
enough of a life for any man but what those last two sentences fail to say
is that his journalistic and diplomatic experiences were fully as dramatic
and successful as his too brief career in sports.
Brian has been married for more
than 40 years and is now living in Virginia Beach, Va.