Johnny Bench To Speak At ODU Baseball Clinic

January 17, 2006
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Jan. 17, 2006

NORFOLK, VA-- Johnny Bench, a ten-time gold glove winning catcher, Hall of Famer and key member of the Cincinnati Reds 1975 and 1976 World Championship teams, will be the keynote speaker and clinician for the 29th annual Greenwich Kitchens Old Dominion University Scholarship Baseball Clinic and GTI Systems Banquet, Jan. 27 and 28.

Tickets for the clinic which will be held in the Old Dominion University fieldhouse on Jan. 28 for one session, beginning at 9 a.m. are $5.

The weekend begins on Friday, Jan. 27 with the GTI Systems "Meet the Stars" Banquet at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel, beginning with a social at 6:30 p.m., and dinner at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person, and will go on sale at the Old Dominion University Athletic Ticket Office on Oct.15. Proceeds from the dinner and clinic support baseball scholarships at Old Dominion.

Widely regarded as the greatest catcher in major league baseball history, Bench won the 1968 National League Rookie of the Year award, batting .275 with 15 home runs and 82 RBI's, and the honors and accomplishments only continued to pile up. During his career, Bench earned 10 Gold Gloves, was the 1970 and 1972 Most Valuable Player and was named to the National League All-Star team 14 times. He also won such awards as the Lou Gehrig Award in 1975, the Babe Ruth Award (1976), and the Hutch Award in 1981.

Bench played for "The Big Red Machine" for 17 years from 1967-1983. He helped lead the Reds to four World Series appearances, and was a pioneer of the one-handed style of catching. He was also the first backstop to wear a protective helmet while behind the plate.

Bench led the National League in RBI three times. He knocked in 148 runs with 45 homers and a .293 batting average in 1970. In 1972, Bench hit .270 with 40 homers and 125 RBI. He completed his career with 389 home runs, 1,376 runs batted in. His career home run mark by a catcher stood until surpassed by the Chicago White Sox's Carlton Fisk. The New York Mets' Mike Piazza has since broken the record.

The native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Bench was also a standout basketball player for Binger High School. He was drafted in the second round of the 1965 amateur Draft. Bench was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1989, appearing on 96% of the ballots - the third highest ever.

In the 28 previous years of the clinic, 109 major leaguers, managers, coaches and administrators have participated in the clinic weekend. Past Baseball Hall of Famers have included Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson, Lou Brock, Jim `Cat Fish' Hunter, Tommy Lasorda, Harmon Killebrew, Dave Winfield, Sparky Anderson, Ferguson Jenkins, Gaylor Perry, Robin Roberts, Bob Feller, Steve Carlton, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver.

For more information on the clinic and banquet, please contact the Athletic Ticket Office at 683-5484.