Johnny Bench

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Johnny Lee Bench (born December 7, 1947 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) 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.[1][2][3] 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.[4][5] ESPN has called him the greatest catcher in baseball history.[6]

Contents

Major League Baseball career

A Native American (one-eighth Choctaw),[7] 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.[8] 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!"[4][9] Williams' prediction eventually became fact with Johnny Bench's election to the Hall of Fame in 1989.

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