Archive for the ‘Johnny Bench’ Category


Johnny Bench

December 21, 2006

Johnny Bench may be the best catcher who ever lived. If I was asked to assemble an all-time team I might end up leaning toward Negro League slugger Josh Gibson as my catcher, partly because of his first name and partly because he was regarded as the best hitter in the history of the Negro Leagues and is by many estimations among the top five power hitters of any league, anywhere, ever. But I could make just as strong an argument for Johnny Bench, whose defensive skills were superior to those of Gibson or any other catcher before or since (with the possible exception of Ivan Rodriguez), and whose offensive prowess enabled him to be the hub of The Big Red Machine, perhaps the greatest offensive lineup ever assembled. And not for nothing, but how cool is this picture? With dust rising all around him, Bench is the gunslinger who has just downed one challenger and who is now eyeing the next as if to say, “You really think that’s a good idea? Really?”