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Saturday, April 19, 2014

OAG: A Conversation With Baseball Legend Johnny Bench

The one where Dennis Menke becomes Dennis Mickey.

BL: Johnny, you’re working with the Topps baseball card company. Do you remember receiving your first card after you reached the majors?

JB: Surely you jest. Of course I do, my goodness gracious. That’s what made you a major leaguer. So I loved it. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Now I say “Look at me.” You could carry ‘em around, “Here, have my card.”

BL: In the 1970s the Reds went to the World Series four times, winning twice, and went to another two National League Championship Series. Your first full season with the team was 1968. How quickly did you realize you were part of an extraordinary team?

JB: Well, in 1970 we started off the year 70-30. In our era, I’m playing with Tony Perez in ’68, Pete Rose, Tommy Helms, Vada Pinson. And we were close. We were really close. It just seemed like we needed one more thing to make it happen. In 1970 we started off with Lee May hitting and we were just dominating.

We had teams say, “Why don’t we just give it to them now?” And then we were 32-30, and yet here we were 32-30 to end the year and we won 102 games. I mean, it was just phenomenal. And then when we failed a little bit in ’71 the trade was made for Joe Morgan for Cesar Geronimo for Jack Billingham. Dennis Mickey came over and Ed Armbrister. And that’s when we really got it. We had a swagger. That’s when Joe had a chip on his shoulder and Pete Rose was Pete Rose. And we had a Gold Glove center fielder and Gold Glove shortstop in David Concepcion. We had Ken Griffey. I mean we had other teams come out to watch us take batting practice. They’d watch us take batting practice. It was that kind of ball club.

Repoz Posted: April 19, 2014 at 07:03 AM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, reds

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   1. salvomania Posted: April 19, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4689059)
"Dennis Mickey"?
   2. The District Attorney Posted: April 19, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4689063)
Johnny Bench called.
   3. Jose Canusee Posted: April 19, 2014 at 06:38 PM (#4689328)
There is a bit later where he said Lou Brock claimed Bench threw him out three times in a game. If so, it wasn't in the regular season because during Bench's career no one ever threw out Brock three times in a game according to my peek at Retrosheet.

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