Chat with Johnny Bench
Bench was elected to the Hall in 19889 with 96% of the vote.
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, Hall of Fame baseball player and former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench stops by to chat about his legendary career as well as his new role as an MLB spokesman.
Bench, a skin cancer survivor, has joined the MLB and MLBPA in combination with the American Academy of Dermatology to form the 2012 Play Sun Smart program, an effort by all 30 MLB teams to receive skin cancer screenings and practice sun-safe behaviors throughout the season. Bench will appear at the MLB Fan Cave in New York on Saturday to raise awareness for the program.
Bench, often called the greatest catcher in MLB history, was a 14-time all-star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, 2-time World Series champ and 2-time MVP. He retired as the home run leader for catchers and currently sits third on the list.
Send your questions now and join Bench Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:31 PM)
Johnny is here!
Jason (Nashville, TN)
What catchers playing today do you think could eventually be Hall-of-Famers?
Johnny Bench (3:32 PM)
Like everybody, I liked watching Joe Mauer, but he's had some problems. Injuries always play a role with catchers. But with Posey, Wieters and others, it will be interesting to see their development.
Arthur Oliva (West Chester, OH)
Cincy has a new rookie catcher this season, Devin Mesoraco, which you of course know. He's regarded as the top prospect in the Reds farm system. After what he's done this year and in the minors, do you think he is worthy of all the hype thrusted upon him, and which past catcher do you think offers the best comparison to his skill set?
Johnny Bench (3:33 PM)
I do. I love the way he throws. I love his approach at the plate. Remember, I was hitting .167 through the month of May my rookie year. Sometimes you have to give them some time to get their feet under them.
what are you hoping to dowi the play sun program?
Johnny Bench (3:34 PM)
For young kids and fans, my thoughts are if I can prevent them from going through what I have with skin cancer, then I've done my job. So many people my age are developing skin cancers all over the body. I want them to be aware that they need to cover up and make sure they have their sunscreen on. No one wants to be scraped or frozen or have surgery. If you go out to the game, to the beach, anywhere, you have to take precautions.
Mr. Bench, when I was a kid growing up in Orlando in the 70's, I got to be a batboy for the Minny Twins during Spring Training. I always loved when the Big Red Machine came to town - you guys were awesome (I have some great memorabilia as well). What were some of your favorite things to do during spring training? Favorite locations?
Johnny Bench (3:36 PM)
Spring training was just a time for all of us to get back in shape. Most of us worked during the winter months. I was a basketball referee. I did some speaking engagements and played golf. In spring training, I got my legs under me. At that time, you got 45 minutes of batting practice a day. By the time the season rolled around, you had your legs. And there was also the dog track we liked to go to.
First off my dad and I are huge fans of you and I would like to thank you for your time in Cincinnati, you really are the greatest catcher ever. I have two questions for you. First, who do you think is the best catcher in the game? Second, what is your opinion of the Reds in a whole? I thank you again for your time in Cincinnati and Go Reds!
Johnny Bench (3:37 PM)
The owner has committed to bringing a winner and keeping a winner by signing guys like Phillips and giving fans consistency and a future. I love the current team. You could always get deeper here and there. The committment is there by the owner, now it's up to the fans to commit and go to the park.
mamajo (N.C.) [via mobile]
Hi. Johnny, Always have been & always wil be a fan of yours and "THE MACHINE". I was wanting to know if this skin cancer initiative will include education and resources for youth programs from little leagues thru high school. The reason I ask is because sun skin damage almost always starts during the childhood years. Remember prevention at all ages is necessary. If this sounds clinical I was an RN for 30 years. Also I picked our Reds for the division from the start. Just starting to roll. Thanx....Stay healthy.
Johnny Bench (3:38 PM)
Most assuredly. We want you to go to SpotSkinCancer.org and MLBCommunity.org. And check with the American Academy of Dermatology. Check to see how preventative you want to be. Most skin cancers are started at an early age with sunburns. So make sure you are protected and not overexposed.
Matthew (Columbia, NJ)
Johnny: Have you ever been punished during the game by an umpire like what happened to Russell Martin the other night?
Johnny Bench (3:40 PM)
I have. With a new umpire. The one thing you want to do is show up an umpire. You don't want to hold a pitch too long. You don't want to irritate an umpire. I've had some verbal words with several umpires. You never want to turn around on an umpire. That's worse. In the old days, they would bait you. They would follow you to the dugout. They would always be the winner.
how much did you ahve to be aware of what you were doing at the plate as well as behind it? to help protect your pitchers?
Johnny Bench (3:41 PM)
No. 1 job of any catcher is to call a good game. That's why catching is so difficult. Not only the grueling up and down, but mentally you have to be ready for every pitch. It takes a lot of committment and fortuity.
Who is the best pitcher you have ever seen/caught?
Johnny Bench (3:42 PM)
You would have to think Tom Seaver. I will also tell you that Don Gullet was one of the best pitchers day in and day out. And Jim Maloney probably had the best stuff to call for an entire season.
best memory? Any standouts?
Johnny Bench (3:43 PM)
Yeah, the World Series of '75 and the WS of '76. There's nothing like coming into the clubhouse after winning and everyone is a world champ. Owners, players, coaches, staff, fans, sponsors.
any games you caught stand out?
Johnny Bench (3:44 PM)
I remember Maloney's no-hitter. I remember Tom Seaver's first game. I'll always remember the last pitch thrown that won us the World Series.
What's it like in a clubhouse with pitchers and catchers?
Johnny Bench (3:46 PM)
In the old days, there was a scouting report and you met before every series with a new team. At that point, I thought it was more my responsibility. There may be a guy that's not hitting a curveball, you have to see whose curveball. Sandy Koufax's curveball is better than anything we've got. Between starts, it's up to the pitcher to prepare for the next start. Get the running in and other prep work.
johnny bench rules (pittsburgh pa)
who was your favorite baseball player when you were growing up?
Johnny Bench (3:46 PM)
Johnny Bench (3:47 PM)
Thanks for all of the following on Twitter: @Johnny_Bench5. Check out my new internet eye glass website: www.OpDocs.com.