MINNEAPOLIS – With Target Field finally open and receiving rave reviews, Jerry Bell has decided to retire.
The longtime Minnesota Twins executive announced his retirement to the staff on Thursday morning, ending an era in which he helped the Twins win two World Series titles and ensured the team will remain in the Twin Cities for decades to come after winning a more than decade-long fight to get a new ballpark downtown.
"Jerry's imprint on the Twins organization is deep and very significant," said Dave St. Peter, who succeeded Bell as Twins president in 2002. "Really his focus over course of last of 10-15 years was ensuring the long-term viability of baseball in Minnesota. His heart and soul is very evident in Target Field and he can feel very proud where this franchise is today."
Bell served as the team's president from 1987-02 and was on staff when the Twins won titles in 1987 and 1991. He was appointed president of Twins Sports Inc. in 2002 and spearheaded the team's campaign to get a new ballpark.
The Twins opened gleaming new Target Field last season, a beautiful outdoor park that assured the team would remain in Minnesota. Team officials credited Bell for his tireless work overseeing the planning, design and construction with the project's overwhelming success.
After their last title in 1991, the team went through an awful period on the field. Languishing in the Metrodome, there was talk of the team moving or even being contracted before the Twins finally received approval for the new ballpark.
"Without a new facility it was going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for the Twins to be viable," St. Peters said.
The 74-year-old Bell has been one of the most trusted confidants for the Pohlad family, which owns the team. He also helped the team move its spring training workouts from Orlando to Fort Myers, Fla., where they play at the impressive Lee County Sports Complex.
Even though Bell is retiring from his primary duties as Twins Sports Inc., he will keep an office at Target Field and plans to continue to help the organization with special projects.
"He's not really saying goodbye," St. Peter said. "He's moving into a new phase of his career. He will continue to be very involved."