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Johnny Bench

Johnny Bench

Position(s):
C, 1B, 3B, CF, LF, OF, RF
Nicknames:
Little General
Born:
December 7, 1947
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 1"
Weight:
197 lbs
Major League Debut:
8-28-1967 with CIN
Allstar Selections:
1968 GG, 1968 ROOK, 1969 GG, 1970 GG, 1970 ML, 1970 MVP, 1971 GG, 1972 GG, 1972 MVP, 1973 GG, 1974 GG, 1975 GG, 1975 LG, 1976 BR, 1976 GG, 1976 WsMVP, 1977 GG, 1981 HA
Hall of Fame:
1989

 

Quite possibly the greatest defensive catcher of all-time, Johnny Bench won two Most Valuable Player awards as a young man and led the best team of the 1970s as a mature major leaguer. He retired having hit more home runs than any other catcher and was one of the best clutch hitters in post-season history. He was the 1968 National League Rookie of the Year and he ended up in the Hall of Fame.

Johnny Bench Teammates

Johnny Edwards
Tony Perez
Joe Morgan
Pete Rose
Davey Concepcion
George Foster
Vada Pinson
Ken Griffey Sr.
Tom Seaver
Don Gullett
Gary Nolan
Jack Billingham
Mario Soto
Clay Carroll
Rawley Eastwick
Sparky Anderson

Best Season: 1970

Bench won two MVP awards as a relatively young man, in 1970 and 1972. In '70, at the age of 22, he played in 158 games (playing about 20 games at positions other than catcher) and battered opposing pitchers. He batted .293 with league leading totals in homers (45) and RBI (148). He set a career high with 177 hits and tallied 97 runs. Though he was young, he was the best catcher in baseball, as evidenced by his rocket arm. He earned a Gold Glove, as well as the NL MVP award. The Reds ran away with the NL West division and advanced to the World Series, in which Brooks Robinson made a habit of stealing hits from Bench.

Most Runs Batted In (1967-1983)
1. Tony Perez... 1488
2. Reggie Jackson... 1435
3. Carl Yastrzemski... 1383
4. Johnny Bench... 1376
5. Al Oliver... 1247

Where He Played
Catcher (1,742 games), 3B (195), 1B (145), OF (111).

Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1967

Reggie Jackson
Graig Nettles
Rod Carew
Johnny Bench
Tom Seaver
Jerry Koosman
Amos Otis
Sparky Lyle
Aurelio Rodriguez

Nicknames

Little General

Uniform Numbers
#5 (1967-1983)

 

 

Similar Players

Later in their careers, Gary Carter and Bench shared many similarities. Carter was sort of the poor-man's Johnny Bench.

Related Players

Brooks Robinson robbed Bench of a few hits in the 1970 World Series, solidifying his reputation as the greatest defensive third baseman in history... Tony Perez and Bench were a tough duo in the middle of the Big Red Machine's lineup in the 1970s... Pete Rose and Bench had a strained relationship as teammates and after their playing days... Rollie Fingers threw a famous sneaky strike three pitch to Bench in the 1972 World Series, after having tossed a couple wide pitches intentionally.

Post-Season Notes

Reggie Jackson may have earned the nickname “Mr. October,” but Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny bench could easily lay claim to the title instead. His timely blasts helped the Reds in four separate post-seasons.

In the 1972 playoffs, the Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates battled to a deciding fifth game. Playing in Cincinnati and trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Bench homered to tie the score and the Reds went on to win the game and the pennant.

In 1973, the Reds squared off against the New York Mets in the NL Playoffs. In the opening game, Tom Seaver took a 1-1 tie into the bottom of the ninth in Cincinnati. Bench blasted a home run off the future Hall of Famer and the Reds won 2-1. The Mets went on to win the series in five games, but Bench had three extra-base hits in the clash.

The 1975 World Series is regarded by many as the greatest ever played. In Game Two, in the bottom of the ninth inning with his team trailing the Red Sox 2-1, Bench doubled off Bill Lee and scored the tying run. The Reds went on to win the game 3-2, and ultimately the series. Even though Bench batted just .207 in the series, three of his six hits were for extra bases, and he drove in four runs.

The 1976 post-season truly belonged to Johnny Bench. In the playoffs against the Philadelphia Phillies he batted .333 in the three-game sweep. In the final game, with the Phils clinging to a 6-5 lead, Bench homered off Ron Reed to tie the score, paving the way to victory. In the World Series, Bench performed as well as any batter in history, collecting eight hits (four for extra-bases) in the four-game sweep of the New York Yankees. He batted .533 and hit two homers with six RBI. In Game Four, he hit a three-run blast in the top of the ninth to clinch the game and the series.

In all, Bench played in ten post-season series — four World Series and six NL playoff series. He hit at least one homer in every series but one. In 45 post-season games he drove in 20 runs.


Hitting Streaks

18 games (1979)

Transactions
Selected by Cincinnati Reds in the 2nd round of the free-agent draft (June 8, 1965).

External Links and Sources:

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Tagged:
1970 NLCS, 1970 World Series, 1972 NLCS, 1972 World Series, 1973 NLCS, 1975 World Series, 1976 World Series, 1979 NLCS, All Star, Babe Ruth Award, Baseball History, Big Red Machine, Catcher, Cincinnati Reds, Gold Glove, Hall of Fame, Johnny Bench, Little General, MVP, NL MVP 1970, NL MVP 1972

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