From Paul Dickson’s “Baseball’s Greatest Quotations,” comes a quote I remember from the 1976 Reds-Yankees World Series. As I recall, Reds manager Sparky Anderson was asked to compare Yankees catcher and leader, Thurman Munson, to future Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.

“I don’t want to embarrass any other catcher by comparing him with Johnny Bench.” — Sparky Anderson

Dickson references the 1989 Hall of Fame Yearbook for the quote, I’ve seen it in several places.

Many may not know this, but Munson was born in Akron Ohio, went to high school in Canton, Ohio, and went to college at Kent State University, all within a few hours of Cincinnati, before becoming a 1968 first round draft pick of the Yankees. Bench, from Binger, Oklahoma, had been drafted by the Reds in the second round of the 1965 player draft.

1976 wasn’t Bench’s best season. Fighting injuries, he batted .234 with with 16 homers and 74 rbi (winning a Gold Glove), while Munson .302 with 17 homers and 105 rbi, winning the AL Most Valuable Player award. Taking up the challenge, Munson batted .529 with two rbi in the World Series, collecting almost one-third of the Yankees’ 30 hits (Munson had nine). However, Bench did even better, winning the World Series MVP award by batting .533 with two homers, six rbi and allowing only one stolen base for the Yankees (Bench threw out one runner, too). The Reds stole seven of eleven bases in the Series as the Reds swept the Yankees four games to none.

6 Responses

  1. RiverCity Redleg

    The irony of that statement is what makes it so great. To this day, there hasn’t been a ML catcher to come close to comparing to JB.

  2. Y-City Jim

    …and Bench could have been even better if not for the intrusive surgery after the 1972 season. That took a little out of him.

  3. justcorbly

    No one better before, or since.

  4. REDS1

    I have to say that I was only two in 1976 but I always found that quote to be a little arrogant and unnecessary.

    Clearly Johnny was great and the better overall player but I don’t like that statement.

  5. SFRedsfan

    Ask Joe Morgan about Bench. I saw him play as a kid and nothing compared. Amazing athlete period- all of the tools and the mind set of a champion. The perfect foil for Rose.