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Johnny Bench  

National Baseball Hall of Famer, 14-Time MLB All-Star & 2-Time World Series Champion; Former Catcher for the Cincinnati Reds

Johnny Lee Bench is an American former professional baseball catcher who played in the Major Leagues for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983 and is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bench is a 14-time All-Star selection and a two-time National League Most Valuable Player. He was a key member of the Big Red Machine that won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two consecutive World Series championships. Known for his prowess on both offense and defense, ESPN has called him the greatest catcher in baseball history.

The 6-foot-1, 208-pound Bench joined the Reds late in the 1967 season and became a star in 1968, when he set records for a catcher by playing in 154 games and hitting 40 doubles. He was named the league's rookie of the year.

Johnny Bench won his first most valuable player award in 1972. Bench's league-leading 45 home runs and 148 RBIs helped the Reds to the division title. He came close to duplicating those numbers in 1973, again leading the league with 40 home runs and 125 RBI to win another MVP award as the Reds won another division title. They won the pennant both seasons but lost twice to the Oakland Athletics in the World Series.

In 1974, Johnny Bench led the league in RBI for the third time, with 129. The Reds finally won the World Series in 1975 and they repeated the following year. Bench's offensive numbers weren't nearly as spectacular in those seasons, but he was still clearly the best catcher in the league. In 1977, he was named the All-Star starter for the tenth consecutive year.

Knee problems began to bother Bench in 1978 and he was limited to just 52 games in 1981, when he played primarily at first base. He was also used at third base and in the outfield at times during his last two years. He retired after the 1983 season and became a radio broadcaster.

The winner of ten Gold Glove Awards, Johnny Bench pioneered the one-handed style of catching, keeping his left hand behind his back to protect it from foul tips and using a very flexible glove to snare the ball, a technique now used by virtually all major league catchers

Speech Topics

Vowels of Success

A - is the ATTITUDE you have every day

E - Is your EFFORT for Excellence

I - is being the best INDIVIDUAL and a accepting your responsibilities

O - is taking advantage of the OPPORTUNITIES that come your way

U - is USING the knowledge and information available to you from technology and your peers

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