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The Johnny Bench Award

"Presented to the collegiate catcher whose talent, toughness, and integrity most closely resembled the legend after whom the award is named."


The Award

The Johnny Bench Award, proudly sponsored by, is presented to the nation's most outstanding collegiate catcher, Johnny Bench, arguably the greatest catcher of all time, agreed to be the namesake for the annual award, which has accurately predicted some of MLB's next biggest stars.

The Johnny Bench Award is presently annually to the nation's top collegiate catcher as voted on by Division I coaches. A watch list is compiled from nominations received from the universities and released in March.

A selection committee will then narrow the list down to the semifinalists. Statistical information on each semifinalist is then compiled and sent to the national selection committee by the end of May. A vote by the national selection committee narrows the list to three finalists.

Another vote during the College World Series will determine who will be named the Johnny Bench National Collegiate Catcher of the Year. The three finalists will be brought to Wichita, KS for the awards banquet on June 29th, 2017.

Notable Past Winners

  • 2001 - Kelly Shoppach, Cleveland Indians
  • 2003 - Ryan Garko, Cleveland Indians
  • 2004 - Kurt Suzuki, OAK, MIN, WSH, ATL
  • 2005 - Jeff Clement, SEA, PIT
  • 2008 - Buster Posey, 3x World Series Champ
  • 2010 - Bryan Holaday, Detroit Tigers
  • 2012 - Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners
  • 2013 - Stuart Turner, Cincinnati Reds
  • 2014 - Max Pentecost, TOR Blue Jays #8 Prospect
  • 2016 - Zack Collins, CHI White Sox #10 Prospect
 Buster Posey

Buster Posey

  • Bold = MLB active
  • Italics = Minor Leagues

Congratulations 2017 Winner Collegiate Catcher of the Year

Matt Whatley

  • Oral Roberts University

  • Junior, R/R

  • Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 3rd round with the 104th overall pick.


  • David Banuelos, Long Beach State, was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 5th round.
  • Brent Diaz, Louisiana Tech, was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 29th round.

Sponsored Companies



The Joseph Company

Playing in the 1970's was a great era in baseball, and Johnny knows the value of natural performance. West Coast Chill offers energy with No Sugar, No Caffine, No Artificial Sweeteners, Coloring or Flavors. Pure energy.

West Coast Chill is also the first beverage to utilize the world's first self chilling can, coming soon. The Ice Age is over, catch the chill.

Blu Emu

Fast acting topical emu oil formula. Blue-Emu® Original combines the ingredients of Glucosamine and MSM with Aloe Vera and Emu Oil to offer pain relief in your joints and muscles, perfect for years of wear and tear as a catcher. Johnny and his family use it for all their aches and pains. 



Smithfield School App

The Smithfield School App is a mobile communications application designed specifically for schools. All of the information about the school is available on the app. From academics to clubs to sports to music to schedules, everything about the school can be found in the palm of your hand.

The Smithfield School App will allow parents and students to be completely informed. No surprises, no last minute hassles. Everyone is in the know. Sign your school up today.


Originating out of Ohio, Secno has the premium quality fasteners, tools, compressors and hardware to accomplish the productivity you want to achieve in your next project. Johnny serves as a spokesman for Senco. When a Hall of Fame catcher needs to be a household handyman, he trusts the Made in America products from Senco.


Fifth Third Bank

Since 1973, Johnny has promoted Fifth Third products and services, introduced Fifth Third to new markets and supported many community events.  Fifth Third Bank provides full-service banking, investment, commercial and data processing services around the world, ‘working hard to be the only bank you’ll ever need’.

Cincinnati Reds

In the debate over the greatest catchers in baseball history, Johnny Bench is inevitably at or near the top of the list. So complete a player was Bench that his longtime manager Sparky Anderson once chided a sportswriter for comparing another catcher to Bench by saying, "I don't want to embarrass any other catcher by comparing him to Johnny Bench."

Johnny continues to hold an informal advisor role with the Reds owner Bob Castellini, as well as working with players whenever he gets the opportunity.





Johnny Bench Accepts American Legion Good Guy Award

Aug 29, 2016 - Johnny was a American Legion Baseball player as a kid, later served in the Army Reserve, but at the 98th National Convention, he was awarded the James V. Day Good Guy Award by the Past Department Commander's Club for his commitment to philanthropy that supports active and veteran troops.

See full story here...

"Hope for the Warriors Invitational Raises $212,000"

Hope for the Warriors is a program that works to enhance the quality of life for post 9/11 service men, woman and their families by understanding the pride and challenge that going into a military life. Johnny and Doug Flynn have been regular supporters of this cause and annually attend the Scarlet and Gold Invitational Golf Tournament.

Click here for full story >>

Learn how to apply for veteran services >>


 photo by Alex Trautwig, MLB Photos

photo by Alex Trautwig, MLB Photos

At the 2016 Little League World Series

Two of the most important things that Johnny's father taught him was that being a catcher was the fastest way to the big leagues, and how to lose. "You're winners for being here," he told the little leaguers, and wanted them to understand not only how to lose but how to learn from it. The LLWS serves as such a great opportunity for future stars to come together, have fun and share their cultures. Johnny always remembers his dad telling him after defeat, "that's okay son, we're get 'em tomorrow, let's go get a cheeseburger."