An All Star, Gold Glover and Rookie of the Year in 1968, Johnny Bench is considered the greatest catcher of all time. He was a two-time Most Valuable Player, a 14-time All Star, and a ten-time recipient of the Gold Glove Award.
In 2015, Major League Baseball’s Franchise Four was unveiled. In a more than 25 million votes, fans named Bench, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays the four greatest living ballplayers.
The quartet took the field together in a pregame ceremony before the 2015 All Star game in Cincinnati. The historic event was capped off by Bench crouching behind home plate in Cincinnati, the city he played all of his 17 seasons. Koufax took the mound to throw the ceremonial first pitch to the Reds legend.
Bench reached the pinnacle of his profession in 1989 when he and Carl Yastrzemski were voted into Cooperstown in their first year of eligibility. The Cincinnati catcher was named on 96.4% of the writers’ ballots.
Bench’s plaque in Cooperstown of Johnny Bench reads in part, “Redefining standards by which catchers are measured…”
The two-time world champ and former World Series Most Valuable Player did just that.
Shown here is a correspondence between quite possibly the greatest defenders at two positions, Bench, and Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson. The Human Vacuum Cleaner mailed current and former stars of the game requesting their consent to lend their name to the Babe Ruth Advisory Board. Johnny Bench agreed to this, writing, “Brooks, if you think it’s ok, it’s ok.”
At the bottom, Bench pens his signature and writes his Cincinnati address.