Veteran major-league umpire Wally Bell died Monday afternoon of an apparent heart attack, according to multiple reports. He was 48.
"All of us at Major League Baseball are in mourning tonight regarding the sudden passing of Wally Bell. I always enjoyed seeing Wally, who was a terrific umpire and such an impressive young man. On behalf of our 30 Clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Wally's family, fellow Umpires and his many friends throughout the game."
Bell had spent 21 years as an umpire in the majors. He worked in two All-Star Games, seven Division Series, four League Championship Series, and the 2006 World Series. He umpired the 2013 NLDS between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals.
Bell had open-heart surgery in 1999. According to his official major-league biography, his proudest moment was returning to work after that surgery. Major League umpire Joe West, president of the World Umpires Association, said in a statement: "Wally was a great umpire, a great partner and a great friend. The umpiring community is deeply saddened by this tragic loss. He will be sorely missed by many."