Johnny Bench

From BR Bullpen

1970 Topps

Johnny Lee Bench

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1989

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Bench in 1979 or 1980.

"I can throw out any man alive." - Johnny Bench

Johnny Bench, perhaps the best catcher ever, was a two-time MVP, a perennial All-Star, a two-time home run champ, and a key player on the Big Red Machine. He won ten Gold Gloves, beginning in his first full season in the majors. In 2007, he was named to the Rawlings All-Time Gold Glove Team.

He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2nd round (36th overall pick) of the 1965 amateur draft. In 1967, he was named the Minor League Player of the Year with the Buffalo Bisons of the AAA International League.

He appeared in four World Series, hitting 5 home runs and slugging over .500. Yet for all his Fall Clssic exploits, he is also remembered for being fooled into taking strike three by Rollie Fingers of the Oakland A's in the 1972 World Series after the A's gave the signal for an intentional walk.

He caught 100+ games for 13 straight years (1968-1980). Starting in 1970, his managers began to play him at other positions as well, 1B, 3B, RF and LF - as they did not want to completely exhaust him by catching 140+ games a year, yet needed his bat in the line-up full time. Starting in 1981, he moved off the catcher's spot almost entirely, spending time at first base and third base. He was the Reds' starting third baseman in 1982, but his defense left a lot to be desired and the team finished in last place. he announced his retirement during the 1983 season, effective at the end of the year. To mark the occasion, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn added him and Carl Yastrzemski to the All-Star team, in recognition of the two aging stars' huge contribution to the game over the years.

Arguably the best catcher in the history of baseball, Bench was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 9, 1989 by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

He was the host of the 1980s kids show "The Baseball Bunch", which also featured the San Diego Chicken and Tommy Lasorda. He was also a Reds broadcaster from 1987 to 1990.

He was also inducted to the Peninsula Pro Baseball Hall of Fame. His number 8 is retired at Peninsula also. Bench is also a member of the Carolina League Hall of Fame and was Carolina League rookie of the year in 1966. His first baseball card appearance was in the 1968 Topps set.

Notable Achievements[edit]


1969 1970 1971
Willie McCovey Johnny Bench Joe Torre
1971 1972 1973
Joe Torre Johnny Bench Pete Rose

NL Rookie of the Year
1967 1968 1969
Tom Seaver Johnny Bench Ted Sizemore

Further Reading[edit]

  • Johnny Bench (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, December 1975, pp. 92-94. [1]
  • Johnny Bench and Paul Daugherty: Catch Every Ball: How to Handle Life's Pitches, Orange Frazer Press, Wilmington, OH, 2008. ISBN 978-1933197-128
  • William Brashler: Catch You Later: The Autobiography of Johnny Bench, Harper & Row, New York, NY, 1979. ISBN 0060103248
  • Red Foley: "How the Reds Landed Johnny Bench: In the 1965 draft, they gambled he wouldn't be taken on the first round", Baseball Digest, December 1977, pp. 64-66. [2]
  • Randy Schultz: "Johnny Bench Set the Standard for Catching in the Majors", Baseball Digest, September 2008, pp. 66-69.[3]
  • Rick Sorci: "Baseball Profile: Hall of Fame Catcher Johnny Bench", Baseball Digest, October 1993, p. 65. [4]

Related Sites[edit]