Dell Bethel, Renaissance man: North Ridgeville resident
was pro ball player, decorated soldier, author, coach and scout
Michael Anderson | The Chronicle-Telegram
June 29, 2008
Dell Bethel, who
died Thursday at age 78 after a short illness, could rightfully be called
A promising pitcher with the New York Giants, he volunteered for service
with the U.S. Army and was sent to Korea. As a machine gunner in a Ranger
battalion, he was badly wounded in an artillery barrage while completing
a tough mission.
A longtime resident of North Ridgeville who was originally from New Jersey,
Bethel was with the 1951 Giants in spring training, although he was sent
to the minor leagues with the Minneapolis Millers on his return home.
When his war wounds proved too severe, he retired from baseball.
According to Yvonne Scarbrough, a close friend of Bethels, George
Steinbrenner of New York Yankees fame said that the right-hander had
the best fastball Ive ever seen, a pitch clocked at nearly
But without control, Bethel said, I was afraid I was going to kill
I knew him from baseball, she said. He wrote several
books. He also developed a coaching program for pitchers, one theyre
using at LCCC (Lorain County Community College).
Nicknamed Big Bear, Bethel, who earned two Bronze Stars and
a Purple Heart, continued to live a life of baseball after leaving the
Army. He became a scout for the Giants and then coached at the City College
of New York.
Bethel, who worked as a bird dog scout until a few years ago,
served as athletic director at Lake Ridge Academy and was elected president
of the Western Reserve Conference in 1978. He had also been a health and
physical education teacher and baseball coach at North Ridgeville.
He was a technical adviser on the 1973 film Bang the Drum Slowly,
coaching Robert De Niro and Michael Moriarty on the finer points of being
major league players. He also had a part in the film, playing the third
Among the books he authored were The Men of Old Baldy, Coaching
Winning Baseball, the Complete Book of Baseball and Instruction
and Inside Baseball. He also wrote the introduction to Feeling
Baseball, a book for disabled athletes.
Furthermore, he had a hand in compiling the doctoral course of study on
baseball for the University of California.
Bethel had reported to spring training where he had a 5-1 record
with the Giants in 1951 before enlisting in the Army. While in
Korea, he went on a mission with 300 fellow soldiers and saw savage combat,
with his unit returning with only nine men carrying him back to the American
About becoming a coach, Bethel said it gave him the biggest satisfaction
to touch the lives of young people.