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Johnny Bench – Baseball Hall of Famer
John Lee Bench was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on December 7, 1947 to Ted and Kathie Bench. Johnny Bench was a typical high school teenager who played both baseball and basketball at Binger High School in Binger Oklahoma. He played All-State baseball and basketball. Bench not only excelled in sports in high school, but he also did well in the classroom and graduated valedictorian. Johnny Bench always wanted to be a professional baseball player and it was his father who suggested he play catcher. His father felt this would be the fastest way for his son to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional player. Johnny Bench took his father’s advice and in 1965, at the age of 18, he was drafted into the minor league by the Cincinnati Reds. He was brought up from the minors for the 1968 season to play for the majors beginning a successful career which lasted until his final game in September 1983.
During Johnny Bench’s baseball career, he received numerous awards and accolades, beginning with Rookie of the Year in 1968. This outstanding athlete also played in 14 All-Star Games, 2 time World Series champion, 10 time Gold Glove award winner, 2 time National League MVP, 1 time World Series MVP and won Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig Memorial and Hutch awards. In his 17 years of professional baseball, Johnny had 2,048 hits at bat with a .267 batting average. He hit 689 home runs with 1,376 RBIs. At the time of his retirement, he was the home run leader for catchers. Johnny Bench was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 1989.
John Lee Bench continued to excel in his endeavors after his baseball career ended in 1983. After his retirement he co-wrote 2 books, an autobiography titled Catch You Later and Catch Every Ball: How to Handle Life’s Pitches. He also broadcast baseball games on radio and television. In 2004, Bench underwent hip replacement surgery due to his many years as a baseball catcher. The hip replacement was a Stryker ceramic hip and he later became a spokesperson for Stryker Co. He still participates in competitive sports and has played golf in several Champions Tour tournaments.
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