JOHNNY BENCH by Robert B. Jackson


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Bench's Bunch"" -- his fans and his friends and the press and the team he dominates as ace catcher (""Little General"") -- have a hero on their hands in the boy from Binger, Oklahoma who began in the Peewee League and now tops the National. In '70 he was voted Most Valuable Player and also nominated Best Dressed Athlete by the Tailors Guild (!); among Johnny's other claims to fame is a singing debut, a TV appearance (""Mission Impossible""), and an extraordinary hand that ""can hold seven baseballs at once"" as a comparative photograph tries to demonstrate. Mr. Jackson reports all the lore in order including Bench's best plays and better bons mots; his role with the Cincinnati Reds before and during the World Series fills a whole chapter, and there's instructive mention of his semi-pro father's advice which yielded some of his trademark techniques. Johnny comes across as less a person than a public-conscious personality determined to outdistance the greats, but even that's a lot for a 60-page sketch that can be read in the space of an inning.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1971
Publisher: Walck