Card: 1959 Topps #254
"The day I got called up it was raining and the game with the Indians was postponed, so we made it up with a day-night doubleheader the next day. The first time I went out to right field, I looked up and said to myself, 'This is something.' Late in the second game Casey Stengel said, 'Hey you with the funny first name, go up and hit.' I faced Ray Narleski and struck out." - Zeke Bella
John "Zeke" Bella was a consistent .300 hitter in the minors but only played briefly in the majors for the New York Yankees and Kansas City Athletics. He took his nickname from first baseman Zeke Bonura, one of his favorite players on the 1939 New York baseball Giants.
A Greenwich, CT native, he was signed by the Yankees. His career was interrupted as he was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army. He returned to baseball in 1954 and hit .371 with Binghamton the following year to win the Eastern League batting crown. He spent most of the next three seasons with the Denver Bears, hitting at least .317 in each year.
He earned a September call-up to New York in 1957 and made his big league debut on September 11th. He went 1-for-10 in 5 games that month, collecting his only hit off Rudy Minarcin of the Boston Red Sox. At the end of the 1958 season, he was traded to the Athletics.
Following his playing days, Bella returned to Connecticut, where he was a mail carrier, and in his free time he umpired high school baseball. He earned one of his most prestigious accolades on Oct. 20, 2013 when he was inducted with Steve Young and Sue Merz into the inaugural class of the Greenwich High School Sports Hall of Fame. "Zeke was a great man; a molder of boys into men," said Young, a three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers. "I'm grateful for his inspiring me to be better."
He retired to Palm Beach, Florida, and died in 2013 at age 83.
Zeke is part of the Athletics Player Tour – Go To the Next Stop
Zeke is part of the New York Yankee Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
See all Zeke’s baseball cards at TCDB
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