Albert Belle, the former Indians slugger, is pronounced “totally disabled and unable to perform as a Major League Baseball player” in a four-paragraph press release by the Baltimore Orioles today, effectively ending the 12-year-veteran’s career at the age of 34.
Belle had reported to Spring Training after an injury-plagued 2000 season, his second with the O’s after signing a five-year, $65 million contract in Baltimore following two seasons in Chicago with the White Sox. He had played in 232 consecutive games before a sore hip kept him out of the lineup in late August of 2000, but after missing 20 games he returned to the field. The condition worsened and the degenerative arthritic right hip would prevent him from playing again.
Belle spent his first eight seasons in an Indians uniform, where when not making off-the-field news, he was a force to be reckoned with in the batting order. Of his 381 career home runs, 242 of them came in a Cleveland jersey. He was an All-Star from 1993 to 1996, finished third or higher in the MVP voting in three straight seasons, and three times led the league in RBI.