Johnny’s childhood dream was to become a major league baseball player and his father counseled, that the position of catcher was the most direct route to that goal. Taking that advice, he was selected and signed in the 1965 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds. After two seasons in the minors, Bench made Cincinnati’s Major League roster for the 1968 season. This marked the beginning of one of the most successful careers in baseball history and to Johnny’s ascension as a celebrity.
Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January 1989, Bench is undoubtedly the greatest catcher ever as stated by the Sporting News in late 1998, in which Johnny was named the 16th greatest player of all time – His successes include National League Rookie of the Year (1968), National League Most Valuable Players (1970 & 1972), World Series MVP (1976), 14-time All-Star, and 10 Gold Gloves. In 1980, Bench set an endurance record by catching 100 or more games for 13 consecutive seasons. Then, in 1999 Johnny received baseball’s esteemed honor of selection to the All Century Team on October 24.
Over the years, Johnny has maintained a sense of balance by using his celebrity status to aid such worthy causes as the Heart Association, the American Cancer Society (as past National Chairman of Athletes vs. Cancer), the Kidney Foundation, Franciscan Sisters of Poor Health System, the American Lung Association, and the ‘Catch the Cure’ program of the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati. He also supports the Cincinnati Symphony, and the Museum of Science and Industry in addition to the Johnny Bench Scholarship Fund, which provides funds for students to attend college in the Cincinnati area.
Johnny has also spent quite some time in entertainment, logging thousands of hours in personal appearance on television networks such as ESPN, and Fox Sports in addition to participating in events such as touring with Bob Hope’s Christmas Shows, and visiting troops in the Far East during Desert Storm. He has also sung with the Cincinnati Pops, authored books, and was the host of the Emmy-Award-winning instructional show, “The Baseball Bunch.”
Johnny’s national broadcasting background includes nine years with CBS Radio broadcasting the National Game of the Week, the All-Star Game, the League Championship Series and the World Series as well as play-by-play on Reds’ television.
Johnny’s corporate involvement is evident in long term spokesman relationships, both present and past with the Cincinnati based Fifth Third Bank and national retailer, S&K Menswear.
Johnny is a symbol of winning through hard work and teamwork as outlined in his keynote presentation featuring, “The Vowels of Success“ which highlights easy to remember motivational tips. A much traveled and well experienced speaker, Johnny would be a great addition to your event.
Johnny Quote: “A slump is like a soft bed, easy to get in to, but hard to get out of! Persevere.”