About Johnny Bench
As leader of the Big Red Machine, Johnny Bench defined the catching position for seventeen seasons, setting a standard by which all other catchers are compared. His career resume includes National League Rookie of the Year (1968), National League Most Valuable Players (1970 & 1972), World Series MVP (1976), 14-time All-Star, and 10 Gold Gloves.
Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989, he remains one of the greatest catchers of all time. While these accolades help illustrate Johnny’s success as a player, he prefers to focus on what he says being a catcher is all about, “doing the job day in and day out.” Not an easy thing to do when you’re playing the most brutal position in baseball. Johnny broke seventeen bones in his career and underwent multiple surgeries, but none of it kept him from setting an endurance record by catching 100+ games for thirteen consecutive seasons. In fact, he still feels the effects of all that punishment. Trouble with vision led to his involvement with OpDocs.com, an eyewear company that offers quality designer glasses for those who would like to see the game more clearly.
In 1983, the Johnny Bench Scholarship Fund was established as a tribute to Johnny’s illustrious career. Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds at 17, Johnny never attended college, but wanted to help young athletes with the expense of higher learning. Thanks to Johnny, as many as five hundred students have received financial assistance, and the fund has given out nearly two million dollars. Johnny has also co-written Catch Every Ball: How To Handle Life’s Pitches, which tells little-known stories about the Hall-Of-Famer, his childhood, and his years in baseball. Johnny’s father wanted to be a catcher, but having served in two wars, he was never afforded the opportunity. Johnny ended up living his father’s dream. “Every time I caught a game,” he explains, “my dad was really catching.” Now Johnny has three sons of his own: Bobby, the oldest, and younger sons Justin and Josh. Maybe we haven’t seen the last Bench to carve his name among baseball’s greats.
About the Selection Process
The Johnny Bench Award is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate Division I catcher, voted by the Division I coaches..
A watch list is compiled from nominations received from the universities and released in March.
A selection committee will then narrow the list down to the semifinalists. Statistical information on each semifinalist is then compiled and sent to the national selection committee by the end of May. A vote by the national selection committee narrows the list to the three finalists.
Another vote during the College World Series will determine who will be named the Johnny Bench National Collegiate Catcher of the Year. The three finalists will be brought to Wichita for the awards banquet June 27th, 2013.
------------------ Winners ------------------
2012 - Mike Zunino, Florida
2011 - Jake Lowery, James Madison
2010 - Bryan Holaday, Texas Christian
2009 - J.T. Wise, Oklahoma
2008 - Buster Posey, Florida State
2007 - Ed Easley, Mississippi State
2006 - Jake Smith, East Carolina
2005 - Jeff Clement, USC
2004 - Kurt Suzuki, Cal State Fullerton
2003 - Ryan Garko, Stanford
2002 - Jeremy Brown, Alabama
2001 - Kelly Shoppach, Baylor
2000 - Brad Cresse, LSU