Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Speaking with Johnny Bench

Photo by Janet Tittle
One of the more fun things about being a writer is that you get invited to interesting events. I recently had the honor of speaking at a charity event with Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench.

The event was "Step Up to the Plate" that supports the Center for Children and Families in Cincinnati. The venue was Great American Ball Park. It was a perfect Spring day, sunny and mild--a great day for a ball game. (The Reds were in San Diego, where they beat the Padres 2 to 1.)

I gave a talk on the Crosleys at the Reds Hall of Fame Museum. (For those who don't know, Powel Crosley, Jr. owned the Cincinnati Reds from 1934 until his death in 1961, and the Reds' home park was Crosley Field from 1935 until 1970.)

The event was one of the most enjoyable of the many signings and talks I've done in connection with the Crosley book. Following my address, Bench gave an inspiring talk in support of the charity, standing near his old spot behind home plate.

As a bonus, attendees had the opportunity to hit some balls from home plate--pitched the Reds' batting practice pitcher. (Home plate is just behind Bench and me in the accompanying photo. There was a long line of batters off to the right.) A fine dinner and silent auction followed.

I'd not met Johnny Bench before this. He's a quiet, unassuming guy, and in pretty good shape, just a bit heavier than I remember him from the days of "the Big Red Machine."

And yeah, shaking hands with Johnny Bench is like shaking hands with a catcher's mitt!
Photo © 2007 Janet Tittle

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