Published on March 23, 2011 by Christian
Johnny Lee Bench is a former professional baseball catcher who played in the Major Leagues for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983 and is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bench, a 14-time All-Star selection and a two-time National League Most Valuable Player, was the best offensive and defensive catcher of the 1970s, and was a key member of The Big Red Machine, which won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two World Series championships. ESPN has called him the greatest catcher in baseball history.
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A Native American (one-eighth Choctaw), Johnny Bench played baseball and basketball and was class valedictorian at Binger High School in Binger, Oklahoma. His father told him that he felt that the fastest route to becoming a major leaguer was as a catcher. Bench was drafted 36th overall by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round of the 1965 amateur draft, playing for the minor-league Buffalo Bisons in the 1966 and 1967 seasons before being called up to the Reds in August 1967. He hit only .163, but impressed many with his defense and strong throwing arm. Among them: Hall of Famer Ted Williams. Williams signed a baseball for him which predicted that the young catcher would be “A Hall of Famer for sure!” Williams’ prediction eventually became fact with Johnny Bench’s election to the Hall of Fame in 1989.
Birth Name: Johnny Lee Bench
Birth Place: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Date of Birth: December 7, 1947