Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Louisville Slugger Museum to Honor Former Red

The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory will bestow its 2011 Living Legend Award to a former Red on Friday, Nov. 11th, and that Red is none other than catching great Johnny Bench. He will accept the award during a special ceremony that kicks off the museum's eight-annual auction.

Here is an excerpt from the official press release sent out by the museum:

Bench
“From slugging home runs to raising money for scholarships, Johnny Bench has been a hero throughout this region and for all of Major League Baseball” said Anne Jewell, Executive Director of Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. “The Living Legend Award recognizes greatness both on and off the field and Johnny Bench has been a tremendous ambassador for America’s pastime throughout his life,” she said.

A native of Binger, Oklahoma, Bench broke into the major leagues in 1968 with the Cincinnati Reds and made an immediate impact, earning the National League Rookie of the Year Award. He played his entire 17-year career with the Reds and had one of the most successful careers in baseball history.

Bench was twice named the National League Most Valuable Player (1970, 72). Regarded as the best catcher of the 1970s, Bench was selected to 14 All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Glove Awards as a key member of Cincinnati’s famed “Big Red Machine”.

Bench helped lead Cincinnati to six division titles, four National League pennants and two World Series championships, earning the World Series MVP in 1976.

Using a Louisville Slugger B278 model throughout his career, Bench totaled 2,048 hits, 389 home runs and 1,376 RBI. He retired in 1983 as the career home run leader for catchers.

A first ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bench appeared on 96% of the ballots. His Number 5 was retired by the Reds in 1986 when he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Bench established the Johnny Bench Scholarship Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, which provides funds for students to attend college in the Cincinnati area. He also devotes his time and energy to such worthy causes as the Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the “Catch the Cure” program of the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati.

“Throughout my entire baseball career I was a very proud member of the Louisville Slugger family,” said Bench. “It is a great honor to be recognized by this historic company. Louisville Slugger played a big role in helping me realize my dreams. I am grateful that Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is supporting the Johnny Bench Scholarship Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and helping youngsters accomplish their dreams of attending college.” he said.

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory has produced a limited edition B278 model collector bat autographed by Bench. Only 100 signed bats are available and the cost is $250 and includes two tickets to the invitation-only Living Legend celebration. For more information or to purchase a bat, please call 502-588-7289 or email giftshop@slugger.com.

Past recipients of Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory’s Living Legend Award include Ernie Banks (2010), Hank Aaron (2009), Frank Robinson (2008) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (2007)."

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