Johnny Bench Tops Yogi 314 HRs July 15, 1980
Johnny Bench broke the record held by Yogi Berra for the most home runs by a catcher. He hit his 314th round-tripper on July 15, 1980.
Bench was elected to the Hall of Fame after an illustrious career with the Cincinnati Reds. He was a key member of The Big Red Machine, the nickname given to Reds during the years in which they dominated baseball, 1970-1976. In that seven year span, the Reds won four National League pennants and two World Series. No National League has been able to win back-to-back World Series since the Cincinnati did it in 1975-1976.
Johnny Bench was National League Rookie of the Year in 1968. He was also NL MVP in 1970 (.293, 45, 148) and in 1972 (.270, 40, 125). He made the NL All Star Team 14 times (every season between 1968 and 1980.)
1976 was an off year for Bench. He only managed to hit 16 home runs and contributed a mere 74 RBIs. However he was solid in the NL championship, as the Reds swept the Phillies. He hit .333 in that series. In Cincinnati’s four game World Series sweep of the Yankees, Bench was on fire. He was 8-15 (.533), with a double, a triple, two homers and six RBIs.
As if that weren’t enough, he won ten consecutive Gold Glove awards, from 1968 to 1977.
Bench’s record for the most home runs by a catcher was eventually eclipsed by both Mike Piazza and Carlton Fisk, but between the two of them, they have no World Series rings and only a single Gold Glove. (Fisk in 1972). So we’ll leave it up to you to decide who was the greatest catcher of all time. (Don’t forget Yogi with his 313 homers and 11 World Series rings!)