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Baseball great, Johnny Bench, was born on December 7, 1947 in Oklahoma City. Bench played for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest catchers in Major League Baseball history. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.
"A slump is like a soft bed, easy to get in to, but hard to get out of! Persevere." - Johnny Bench
In addition to being an outstanding fielder, Bench was also a great hitter. In 1970, his finest statistical season, Bench hit .293 with 45 home runs and 148 RBIs. He hit .267 with 389 home runs and 1,376 runs-batted-in during his 17-year Major League career, all spent with the Reds. His career home runs by a catcher record stood until surpassed by the former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza.
Johnny Bench won the 1968 National League Rookie of the Year Award, batting .275 with 15 home runs and 82 RBIs, and the honors and accomplishments only continued to pile up. In his career, Bench earned 10 Gold Gloves, was the 1970 and 1972 Most Valuable Player and was named to the National League All-Star team 12 times. He also won such awards as the Lou Gehrig Award (1975), the Babe Ruth Award (1976), and the Hutch Award (1981). His most dramatic home run was likely his ninth inning lead-off opposite field home run in the final game of the 1972 NLCS vs. Pittsburgh. The solo shot tied the game 3-3, allowing the Reds to win later in the inning on a wild pitch, 4-3. It was hailed after the game as "one of the great clutch home runs of all time."
Although baseball history is filled with many outstanding catchers, such as Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Gabby Hartnett and Mickey Cochrane, arguably, no player revolutionized the position like Johnny Bench. The catcher's equipment was traditionally called "the tools of ignorance" as many catchers lacked the fielding skills to play elsewhere. But Bench inspired many young ballplayers to become catchers. His use of the hinged catcher's mitt, thought to be a gimmick when he first used it after returning to action following a stint on the disabled list because of a thumb injury on his right hand, became standard equipment soon afterward. The new mitt replaced the traditional rigid trapper-style mitt and allowed Bench to tuck his throwing arm safely to the side.
Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January 1989, Johnny Bench is undoubtedly the greatest catcher ever as stated by the Sporting News in late 1998, in which Johnny was named the 16th greatest player of all time - His successes include National League Rookie of the Year (1968), National League Most Valuable Players (1970 & 1972), World Series MVP (1976), 14-time All-Star, and 10 Gold Gloves. In 1980, Bench set an endurance record by catching 100 or more games for 13 consecutive seasons. Then, in 1999 Johnny received baseball's esteemed honor of selection to the All Century Tearn on October 24.
Over the years, Bench has maintained a sense of balance by using his celebrity status to aid such worthy causes as the Heart Association, the American Cancer Society (as past National Chairman of Athletes vs. Cancer), the Kidney Foundation, Franciscan Sisters of Poor Health System, the American Lung Association, and the 'Catch the Cure' program of the Children's Hospital of Cincinnati. He also supports the Cincinnati Symphony, and the Museum of Science and Industry in addition to the Johnny Bench Scholarship Fund, which provides funds for students to attend college in the Cincinnati area.
Johnny Bench has also spent quite some time in entertainment, logging thousands of hours in personal appearance on television networks such as ESPN, and Fox Sports in addition to participating in events such as touring with Bob Hope's Christmas Shows, and visiting troops in the Far East during Desert Storm. He has also sung with the Cincinnati Pops, authored books, and was the host of the Emmy-Award-winning instructional show, "The Baseball Bunch".
Johnny Bench's national broadcasting background includes nine years with CBS Radio broadcasting the National Game of the Week, the All-Star Game, the League Championship Series and the World Series as well as play-by-play on Reds' television.
Bench's corporate involvement is evident in long term spokesman relationships, both present and past with the Cincinnati based Fifth Third Bank and national retailer, S&K Menswear.
Bench is a symbol of winning through hard work and teamwork as outlined in his keynote presentation featuring, "The Vowels of Success* which highlights easy to remember motivational tips. A much traveled and well experienced motivational speaker, Johnny would be a great addition to your event.