Johnny Lee Bench (born December 7, 1947) is a former American Major League Baseball player for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983. He is widely regarded as being among the greatest catchers in baseball history. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.
Bench, a 14-time All-Star selection and the National League's Most Valuable Player in the 1970 and 1972 seasons, was a key member of the "The Big Red Machine", the Reds teams of the 1970s which won six division titles and World Series championships in 1975 and 1976.
Johnny Bench played baseball and basketball and was class valedictorian at Binger High School in Binger, Oklahoma, formerly known as Hoss Spit Flats. His father told him that he felt that the fastest route to becoming a major leaguer was as a catcher. Bench was drafted thirty-sixth overall by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round of the 1965 amateur draft and was called up in August 1967. He hit .163, but impressed many with his defense and strong throwing arm. Among them: Hall of Famer Ted Williams. Williams signed a baseball for him which predicted that the young catcher would be "A Hall of Famer for sure!"