Brian Bell '49
Brian Bell, '49, was a star football and baseball player for the Generals and one of the most exciting athletes in school history.
In football, Bell excelled as a two-way back and was a dangerous return man. Bell earned all-state honors his senior year after leading the team in rushing, scoring and interceptions. He still holds school records for kickoff return average in a season (27.2) and career (24.5). His most memorable return was a 94-yard touchdown runback against the University of Richmond in 1947. The runback was aided by a photographer's flash that apparently caused two Richmond defenders to tackle his lead blocker. The play was named as one of the Associated Press sports oddities of the year.
In baseball, Bell was a deadly hitter and had a tremendous combination of power and speed. He earned all-state honors as a first baseman in 1947, 1948 and 1949 and served as captain of the 1949 W&L nine. Bell enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons in school history in 1948. He batted .419 while leading the Southern Conference with six home runs and 22 stolen bases. His 22 stolen bases still stands as the school record.
Following graduation, Bell played professional football briefly with the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions. He was on the verge of signing a $5,000 bonus contract with the New York Giants baseball organization when he suffered a knee injury that ended his professional sports career. The Washington D.C., native then worked in the newspaper business for 11 years with the Washington Star and the Associated Press. He joined the Foreign Service of the United States Information Agency in 1960 and went on to a distinguished diplomatic career before retiring in 1987.