Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench participated in a live Web chat with fans on Saturday. During the chat he answered many questions, including his on field accomplishments and memories of Sparky Anderson.
jlbfan5: What on field accomplishment are you most proud of?
Johnny Bench: Our back to back World Series championships were by far the best highlight of my career. Nothing will ever surpass walking into the clubhouse after the 75 World Series and seeing 25 players, coaches, managers, equipment men, trainers, owners, sponsors and to know that millions of Reds fans had a world championship.
jknva: Who was the toughest pitcher you've faced?
Johnny Bench: You could say toughest is the guy that could possibly kill you when you came to the plate. That would be J.R. Richard. The toughest could be Gibson Seaver and Marichal. The pitchers I had the most trouble with were Rick Rueschel, Bill Singer and Steve Rogers. I couldn't pick up the rotation for their pitches. They seemed to throw right out of their sleeves and I just couldn't get the spin.
jknva: Who do you rank as the top three defensive catchers of the last ten years?
Johnny Bench: Pudge Rodriguez and Joe Mauer would be the top 2. Third place is a tie with everyone else. I love my catchers.
happy63: Hello Johnny. Glad to be chatting with you. You have always been my favorite player & will always be. My question is: Would you ever like to own your own baseball team?
Johnny Bench: I'd like to have the money to own my own baseball team. Not sure I would buy one, but I'd like to have that kind of money. If I had enough money to buy a team and enough to cover everything else, I certainly would. I love baseball, so I would love to own a team.
jemcx: JB, of the Big Red Machine players who are not in the Hall of Fame, who would you most like to see make it?
Johnny Bench: Davey and Pete.
jlbfan5: When you stepped up to the plate, were you looking for one particular pitch to hit?
Johnny Bench: I looked in a zone and if the first pitch was there, I tried to be aggressive. I usually wound up looking on almost every pitcher for the curve. I knew I could adjust to the fastball. I think you can get 1 pitch to hit every time. Could be the 1st one, so be ready.
RedsRule96: What was the most important lesson you learned from the game of baseball?
Johnny Bench: Be the very best at your position and hope that everyone could play or work with others that are just as good at their position. Individually you have the responsibility to be the best and to take care of your job.
jpizzac: What retired player prior to the start of your career, would you have liked to have played with or against?
Johnny Bench: Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige and Lou Gehrig.
jlbfan5: Are you still performing any music anywhere?
Johnny Bench: I do sing to my 18 month old and my 5 year old, although neither of them seem to hang around for the end of the song.
9801313: Have you ever considered coaching/managing?
Johnny Bench: If I were making what Dusty was making or if Joe Torre's money was out there I'd consider it. It's a huge job these days. It's 24/7, all the time. General managers are now running half the teams and there's very little time off even in the offseason. I'd love to, but bringing up two small boys, not sure that would happen now. Besides, I'm getting old.
jlbfan5: What does having an entire exhibit at the Reds Hall of Fame mean to you?
Johnny Bench: It's given me the chance to re-live so many great moments and memories from my career and put on display memorabilia and items that I haven't seen in many years. I'm honored to have this opportunity here at the Hall of Fame.
jaws1027: Good morning Mr Bench. Congrats on the statue that will erected for you at GABP. What is your fondest memory of Sparky Anderson?
Johnny_Bench: It was an everyday affair with Sparky. I don't think there was ever a day when I didn't walk into the clubhouse and by the manager's office and I wasn't glad to see him. My fondest memory would be I had the flu overnight in Montreal; I had taken Marty out for a couple of cocktails when Marty was starting his 1st year. Marty didn't handle liquor very well and on the bus the next day to the ballpark, Marty proceeded to tell Sparky how he had gotten a little tipsy and visited the porcelain bowl.
When I got to the clubhouse our trainer took my temperature. It was 102 or 103 and he told Sparky I was unable to play. Sparky said because he had talked to Marty I was trying to get out of it. 30 minutes later we took the temperature again and it was 102. Sparky said again, "He's playing." Thanks to Marty I played 10 innings in 33 degrees, snow flurries and hit a HR in the 10th to win it. I had to get the game over with. I was about to die.
Johnny_Bench: Thanks everyone for the chat today. I'm heading back down for our exhibit opening at the Hall of Fame. Hopefully you have a chance to come and see it this season.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.