Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bench named to all-time dream team


Graham Womack, founder and editor of Baseball: Past and Present, recently conducted a two month project where people could vote on a nine-player, all-time dream team. Approximately 636 votes were cast and one member of the Big Red Machine made the grade. That player was none other than 14-time All-Star Johnny Bench.

Here's the excerpt on Bench (click here to view the results of the entire squad):

"What would Johnny Bench bring to this team?

He’d bring some freaking common sense, that’s what he’d bring. Because Bench wasn’t just a great catcher, he was smart too: He was the first catcher to wear a batting helmet under that mask as opposed to a wool cap and the first to catch one-handed, keeping his throwing hand behind him. Which leads one to ask whether anyone before him may have been better but for taking a half dozen back swings to the back of the head and countless foul tips off of bare thumbs.

OK, fine, maybe his common sense wouldn’t have been the most important thing. I mean, the team has a manager and stuff. So how about this: durability. People talk about his tremendous power, but this all-time team is not lacking for power. An underrated part of Bench’s game was that he caught all the time, starting over 140 games at catcher for the first ten years of his career, a pace that one simply doesn’t see… ever. If this team manages to stay together for a long time, sure, we may have some awkwardness as Bench’s eventually creaky knees cause him to ask the skipper to plug him in at third base sometimes, but the first decade or so will be a no brainer. The manager can forego a backup catcher and use the roster spot for a reliever. Not that this team really needs those, of course.

But I guess you don’t care too much about the brains and the durability. You’re probably right not to, because Bench’s calling cards, obviously, were his best-ever defense and crazy boomstick. One doesn’t win two MVP awards and ten gold gloves on grit and savvy alone. One wins those because few runners dared attempt to steal on him — and those who did were rarely successful — even at the height of the stolen base era. One wins those because catchers, especially in the 1970s, simply didn’t hit 40 home runs, drive in 100+ and lead the league in total bases. Yeah, Bench did that once.

Crazy, right?"

In my opinion, Bench is the greatest catcher to ever play the game of baseball. He exemplified every skill you would want a major league catcher to have. He was smart, he could hit, he could throw, he could glove it and was an ideal role model for every kid to look up to. Not only was he my father's favorite player growing up, but JB was a clear winner as well...playing a pivotal role in winning two world championships, four league pennants and six division titles.

Throughout his career he smacked a whopping 389 homers (franchise record), drove in 1,376 runs and maintained a line of .267/.342/.476. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 after receiving an impressive 96.42% of the possible votes.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A TRUE NO DOUBTER !!

Anonymous said...

THE ALL TIME HITS LEADER, PETE ROSE, SHOULD ALSO BE ON THIS TEAM. FORGET ABOUT THE GAMLING, THE BAN AND ALL THAT STUFF. NO ONE HAS EVER PLAYED THE GAME WITH MORE PASSION THAN CHARLIE HUSTLE. OH YEAH, HE HAD A FEW HITS AS WELL.