Monday, September 13, 2010

#10 - Johnny Bench (CIN)

One of the greatest catchers to ever play baseball.  Today, Johnny and Yogi Berra are viewed just about as the two greatest ever.  Johnny revolutionized catching with his patented one hand behind the back style.  Not many injuries from foul tips or wild swingers.  And this is the guy flat in the middle of that monster Big Red Machine lineup.  It's enough to be a power hitting catcher, but that fact is overwhelming in knowing just how good a hitter he was.  I hated the Big Red Machine back in the 70's, being a Giants fan myself, but just to be honest, it was a very respectful hatred.  Except for Pete Rose.

Do you get the idea that the Topps editors wanted its collectors to know about Johnny's 1970 and '72 seasons?  I wonder why.  But I'd like to call attention to the double-knit polyester pullover pajama uniform Bench is wearing.  And the half-calf stirrups.  You won't find that in today's game, although it's nice that he didn't pull them up high enough to just see the stripes up the sides of the legs.  Solid leggings look a bit better.  Especially on a player like Bench.  If Johnny ever had an air-brushed card photo, would the artist use Krylon paint?

Cartoon: I didn't know that Johnny sang country music.  He's from Oklahoma, so I could guess that he listened to it.  I wonder if his singing ever started any bar fights.  Say, it looks like the Topps cartoonist had a good job for a while.  Must have been seasonal work.  Did this guy file for unemployment once the season started?

Ballpark background: Johnny is sporting the Reds road uniforms, and the players in the dugout in the background are displaying New York Mets home threads.  My eddicated guess is that this ballpark background is Shea Stadium.


  1. Topps had a lot of good action shots in the 1974 set. Bench and Rose were very coveted cards in my area.

  2. Great card! Gotta love Bench. I wonder if this photo was taken during the '73 NLCS...

  3. Yes, this is a very good action shot. Good point, Devon, about the '73 NLCS. I just noticed a player on the bench just under his right elbow with a towel around his neck. I wonder it that's the pitcher.