Chat with former Reds C Johnny Bench
Bench is considered one of the best catchers of all-time. He finished his career with 389 career home runs. Starting with his first full season in the majors, Bench made 13 straight all-star games. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
On Wednesday, Bench, with help from DHL, will be delivering new baseball equipment to Cincinnati-area Boys & Girls Clubs, marking the start of the Cincinnati Reds' Rookie Success League summer baseball program.
Send in your questions now and then join Bench at 11:45 a.m. ET on Wednesday!
Buzzmaster (11:47 AM)
Johnny will be here soon, everyone!
Johnny Bench (11:48 AM)
Hey everyone, make sure you buy my book for Father's Day: "Catch Every Ball: How to Handle Life's Pitches"!
James (SF, CA)
As being consider one of the greatest catcher of all time, how would you characterize the change in the position offensively from when you were in the game until now?
Johnny Bench (11:49 AM)
If you look at baseball history since 1869, we're covering only 140 years, and there's only 12 or 13 catchers in the Hall of Fame. Truly great offensive catchers only come along about once a decade. You're seeing some great offensive catchers today: Mauer, McCann, Soto, etc. They're just not catching everybody's eye with extraordinary power and RBI numbers.
dusty (cherry point,nc)
johnny, how do u feel about ken griffey jr as a player and how do u feel about him hittin his 600th hr?
Johnny Bench (11:51 AM)
From the time he was 19 years old, or when he was stealing stuff out of my locker when he was 8, I've always been a great admirer of Junior. If you ask young players who their idol is today, a vast majority will say Griffey, both because of his power numbers and his defense, as good as anybody has ever seen. I'm happy to call him a friend and to watch him play.
Does watching one in partciular catcher today remind you of yourself when you played?
Johnny Bench (11:52 AM)
Pudge Rodriguez stands alone defensively. He loves it, thrives on it, and that's a real tell-tale sign that someone really enjoys it. You can have a great day catching four different ways--you can call a good game, block the plate, throw out runners, or get hits. It's worth all the squats and foul tips that you take.
Is it true that you once got a pitch from a pitcher with your barehand to prove a point?
Johnny Bench (11:53 AM)
I did! I had a pitcher who wanted to throw a fastball, and I called for a curveball three times. He threw a fastball, and I caught it barehanded, just to prove a point. He got the point.
Johnny, what's up with this DHL Boys and Girls Clubs program?
Johnny Bench (11:54 AM)
DHL is joining with Major League Baseball to do this. They have an annual Reds Rookie Success league that helps build ballparks and buy equipment. We'll be dropping off a truckload of equipment to 1500 at-risk kids from the Boys and Girls Club. There will be 300 volunteers there to help these kids learn how to be a good teammate, and to learn the responsibility that comes with playing.
Who was your favorite pitcher to catch?
Johnny Bench (11:55 AM)
Don Gullett, but the biggest pleasure was catching Tom Seaver.
It was great seeing you at last years Hall of Fame Gala. How does it make you feel when you return to events such as those and get a chance to talk ball with the guys? I remember Cal Ripken talking of a conversation he and Tony Gwinn had with you during the dinner. What do you tell the new class of Hall of Famers?
Johnny Bench (11:56 AM)
I try to get them to write a diary from the moment they get there, because time goes by so fast. You forget some of the things you experienced and the people that you saw. After their speech, I have each of them sit with me out on the balcony in a rocking chair, sitting out over the lake, and we reflect on this weekend, on what they've gone through, and how many important people in their lives that have got them there. It's important to do, because you sometimes don't have time to look back on it and say "wow, this is what it's all about".
who was the toughest pitcher for you to face as a batter?
Johnny Bench (11:57 AM)
J.R. Richard. He didn't have complete control, and he could have killed you at any time.
How much credit does a catcher deserve when his pitcher throws a no-hitter?
Johnny Bench (11:58 AM)
A lot! It's amazing what someone like Jason Varitek has done with the no-hitters. Jeff Torborg did very well with Sandy Koufax. I took about six into the ninth, but we only got one of them. It's nerve-wracking. You have to keep your pitcher's confidence up and pick your locations well, and even then, you could get a flare off the end of the bat.
Johnny, What advice would you give to the new Reds phenom, Jay Bruce?
Johnny Bench (11:59 AM)
Expect some downs. He started off so unbelievably, and it won't always be like that. I'm sure he's experienced that even in the minors. Love the game, don't let anything distract you, get your rest, and be prepared every day.
Max (Granger, IN)
what was the greatest moment of your career
Johnny Bench (12:00 PM)
Walking into the clubhouse after we beat the Red Sox in the World Series. Everybody was a World Champion.
Johnny, what did you enjoy more: throwing out a running trying to steal or hitting a home run ?
Johnny Bench (12:01 PM)
It depends on the baserunner...if it was Lou Brock or Maury Wills or Davey Lopes, I loved it. But home runs that win games are the most enjoyable.
My 13 year-old son is a catcher and is having trouble using his body to block balls in the dirt. He does it great during drill but just can't transfer it to games. Any advice I can pass along?
Johnny Bench (12:02 PM)
Catch every ball! Do it your way, don't worry whether it's somebody else's way. His balance is probably forward because he's concerned about a ball in the dirt rather than reacting. Stay relaxed and don't anticipate unless it's a curveball. You have to do it enough times to make it instinctive.
Johnny Bench (12:03 PM)
Thanks everyone, and make sure to buy "Catch Every Ball"! Keep your eye on the ball!