“You don’t give rings to nine guys, you give rings to twenty-five guys.”
Angels in the UK Editor Matt Thomas, writes on the illustrious heritage of our Angels.
- Angels Heritage
- British Baseball History
- Guest’s Corner
- Views Over the Pond
- Why Are You An Angels Fan?
Born in New York, in 1968, Clay Bellinger boasts of three World Series wins, despite only playing for four years at the pinnacle of Major League Baseball. As an outfielder and infielder Bellinger was drafted by the San Francisco Giants, in the 1989 draft, where he spent a decade plying a trade in the minor leagues. In April 1999 Bellinger finally got a taste of the big time, with the New York Yankees, before going on to play just 183 games in Major League Baseball. Despite such a truncated career in the big leagues Clay won the World Series title in 1999 and 2000 with the Yankees, as a utility player that saw him appear in those few seasons in New York in almost every position except pitcher.
Having been released by the Yankees Bellinger instantly caught the attention of then Anaheim Angels General Manager Bill Stoneman, who was looking for a versatile player, who would happily fill in where needed with minimal fuss. Despite his limited appearances for the Yankees Clay was outspoken in his pride of being a World Series winner there, saying; “You don’t give rings to nine guys, you give rings to twenty-five guys.” Stoneman hoped that Bellinger’s experience would provide the players in the locker room with someone they could turn to both in emergencies and for sage advice. Despite only appearing in two games Bellinger went on to secure his third ring, as the Angels secured the 2002 World Series. The Angels then sent Bellinger down to the minors, before he was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles, but remained in the minor leagues.
”That’s the coolest thing, to see your son’s big-league debut. And it came against the Giants, the team I was drafted by and spent six or seven years in the minors with. That moment was probably the most fulfilling.”
Bellinger used his exile from MLB to appear in the 2004 Olympics, in Greece, in an attempt to earn recognition and promotion back to the big leagues (Orioles owner, Peter Angelos was instrumental in the Greek recruitment of North American players). Despite the United States of America failing to qualify, in controversial fashion, for the summer games, a number of North Americans were given the opportunity to take part when they were sought out by hosts, Greece. Hailing from Greek ancestry Bellinger held the unique position of being the only player at the games to have won the World Series. Despite packing their roster with Americans (and just one Greek born player) the Greeks performed miserably, and Clay’s mission to regain his MLB status failed to materialise.
Following retirement from professional baseball Bellinger became a firefighter with the Gilbert fire department, in Arizona, and coached Little League. In his capacity as a parent and Little League coach Clay was instrumental in the rise of two sons, Cody and Cole, to being drafted into MLB. Bellinger took particular satisfaction from attending Cody’s MLB debut, with the Los Angeles Dogders, he said; “That’s the coolest thing, to see your son’s big-league debut. And it came against the Giants, the team I was drafted by and spent six or seven years in the minors with. That moment was probably the most fulfilling.” With true irony Clay was given the duty of pitching to his son, Cody, in the 2017 MLB Home Run Derby, at Marlins Park, finally taking up pitching duties in MLB (of sorts).
If you would like to share your own memories of how you became an Angels fan, about Britain’s own baseball heritage or your view on anything Angels related for Views Over the Pond please get in touch.