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Benny Bengough

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Bernard Oliver Bengough

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[edit] Biographical Information

Bernard "Benny" Bengough played 10 seasons in the big leagues as a catcher. He is most famous for being part of the New York Yankees from 1923 to 1930 and appearing in the 1927 World Series and 1928 World Series.

Bengough was born in Niagara Falls, NY and attended Niagara University. Starting at age 18, he played six years for the Buffalo Bisons before coming to the majors in 1923. As a youth, he much admired Hank Gowdy, who was Buffalo's catcher and served as his model.

In his youth, before entering baseball, Benny Bengough considered a career as a Catholic priest. Much later, he died of a massive heart attack on a Sunday afternoon, in church, after attending Catholic Mass.

Bengough first came up to the Yankees in 1923, as a back-up to Wally Schang, and, in a little-known fact, became a regular for the team the same day as Lou Gehrig replaced Wally Pipp in the line-up, on June 2, 1925. the Yankees had been playing poorly and manager Miller Huggins took advantage of an injury suffered by Pipp to shake up his team by putting in a couple of younger players in Gehrig and Bengough. While not nearly as good a player as the "Iron Horse", Bengough was a fine defensive catcher who was an excellent handler of pitchers. He played well enough for the remainder of the season, hitting .258 in 95 games, that Huggins could trade away the veteran Schantz after the season. Benny was supposed to be the starter in 1926, but he was bothered by a sore arm that cut down his playing time, and then his season ended early when he was hit by a pitch from George Uhle on September 18th, breaking his right wrist. He was hitting an outstanding .381 (but in only 84 at-bats), but Pat Collins had received most of the playing time; as Collins also had a sore elbow, the Yankees picked up another veteran on the waiver wire in late July, Hank Severeid, and he ended up starting all 6 games of the 1926 World Series.

Bengough was back in full health in 1927, and he was part of an unusual three-man arrangement for the Yankees' catching duties that year. They had acquired Johnny Grabowski in the off-season to take Severeid's place, and now had three catchers with similar skill sets: righthanded hitters who were good defenders but had little power. So Huggins rotated the three, and together they combined for a .271 average, 7 homers and 71 RBI; Benny was the least used of the three, hitting .247 with 10 RBI in 31 games. He did get to start Game 2 of the 1927 World Series, after Collins had started Game 1; Grabowski then started Game 3, and Collins was back behind the plate as the Yankees completed a four-game sweep of the Pitsburgh Pirates. That team is usually considered among the greatest of all time, but its catching combination was less than overwhelming. The three were retained for the 1928 season, with Bengough hitting .267 in 58 games. He was the man in the World Series, however, catching all four games as the Yankees swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games. Future Hall of Famer Bill Dickey joined the Yankees in 1929, and it was clear Bengough's days were numbered. He did stay as Dickey's back-up in 1929 and 1930, then moved to the St. Louis Browns in 1931, playing there until the end of the 1932 season.

After his days in the majors, Bengough played in the minors and also managed in the New York Yankees' growing chain. He managed the Washington Generals in 1934 and 1935, then moved up to the Joplin Miners in 1936 and 1937. He was then a coach for the Newark Bears in 1938 and 1939.

Bengough was a coach for the Washington Senators from 1940 to 1943, the Boston Braves in 1944 and 1945, and for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1946 to 1958.

Some sources refer to him as "Bennie".

[edit] Notable Achievements

[edit] Year-By-Year Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs
1934 Washington Generals Pennsylvania State Association 59-47 2nd (t) New York Yankees Lost League Finals
1935 Washington Generals Pennsylvania State Association 55-52 3rd New York Yankees Lost League Finals
1936 Joplin Miners Western Association 83-58 2nd New York Yankees Lost League Finals
1937 Joplin Miners Western Association 76-66 3rd New York Yankees Lost League Finals

[edit] Further Reading

  • Cort Vitty: "Yankees Catchers During the Huggins Era", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 42, Number 1 (Spring 2013), pp. 106-110.

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