12/24/09 10:00 AM EST
Bell talks holiday happenings
Season brings happy memories to Padres closer
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Remember, Heath Bell is the one who used a Wii Fit to drop 25 pounds last winter in preparation for his job as closer of the Padres. Bell went on to make the All-Star team and led the National League in saves (42).
That doesn't mean Bell is ready to grow up. He's the one with the biggest and often the best toys -- at home and in the clubhouse. Anyone remember the motorized La-Z-Boy rolling through the clubhouse last season?
At any rate, Bell has the Christmas spirit bug. But it's not just about toys for him. It's about giving back, seeing the expression when his children open gifts and, generally, enjoying time spent at home, a luxury he's not afforded in the regular season.
Bell recently spoke with MLB.com about the holidays, what it means to him, Christmas and his part in the Padres' charitable endeavors.
MLB.com: You recently took part in the Computers 2 SD Kids drive in nearby Miramar. Tell us what that was about.
Bell: It was pretty cool. It was for kids who are not doing so well and they could come in and get a computer. The computers were anything from a flat screen to one of those old ones. It was like Christmas morning for them. Their eyes would light up.
MLB.com: The Computers 2 SD kids drive ended up distributing 300 computer systems to children and families. What were the kids most excited about?
Bell: Some of them would be like, "I'm going to have the Internet." Some were like "I'm going to be able to play video games." It was a little like I was Santa ... like I was the one giving gifts.
MLB.com: This is, from what I gather, your favorite holiday?
Bell: I'm huge into Christmas, lights, gifts, everything. As a young kid, I was into Christmas, but it wasn't that I just wanted gifts. It was more about the whole family coming together and about giving to other people. As a kid, I would make stuff for my siblings, nieces and nephews. I was really into the spirit of giving.
MLB.com: How is Christmas different now that you're a father of four?
Bell: It's really hard to describe. When your kids wake up, they go down and see that Santa came and then you go down and check them [the presents] out. It's a great feeling to see your kids light up and to see them rip open those presents and have at it.
MLB.com: You told me Christmas dinner is a little, well, unconventional at your place?
Bell: I'm Polish and my wife is Chinese ... so the dinner is Polish and Chinese. It's kind of a weird mix.
MLB.com: I have to ask: Best gift(s) that you received growing up?
Bell: There were two things. First, I loved army men. I would put them all over the place. Then, it was those little tracks you put race cars on. We got that and my brother, he's 12, 13 years older than me, he put it together with my dad. We had this big track with all these races going on and had it on the dining-room table. We must have played with that for a week. I mean we didn't move. My son is slowly getting into that now. I think next year he'll get into it.
MLB.com: Let's say you can grant a gift to Padres fans for the upcoming season. What would that be?
Bell: I'd like to give the fans the chance to watch us get to the playoffs. Even with a young team, I think we can go out and beat the Dodgers and everyone else. We got so close in 2007. We would love to give the fans a playoff berth this. And, of course, more giveaways and fun times for them at the ballpark.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.