The Obit For Dell Bethell

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 hero.

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 Bethel’s, George Steinbrenner of New York Yankees fame said that the right-hander “had the best fastball I’ve ever seen,” a pitch clocked at nearly 100 mph.

But without control, Bethel said, “I was afraid I was going to kill someone.”

“I knew him from baseball,” she said. “He wrote several books. He also developed a coaching program for pitchers, one they’re 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 base coach.
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 lines.

About becoming a coach, Bethel said it gave him “the biggest satisfaction” to touch the lives of young people.