Bench gives insight to big league baseball
June 5, 2001
PHILADELPHIA While Johnny Bench was on the Pearl River reservation Monday, he graciously went through a question and answer session with the local media.
Here are the highlights:
Does the fact that players jump teams so frequently now take anything away from the game?
Bench: "I don't see a lot of people staying in one business all the time either. The way it's set up with the free agency and the fact that there's so much money involved and your budgeting for your team, you just really can't afford to keep players a long time.
How much would it take to sign you today?
Bench: "I'd just want half of the club. I'm not a greedy individual. Really I don't know because the agents really dictate that. Certain guys get into ego things. I always took less because I wanted to be in Cincinnati. I didn't have to be the highest paid and I wouldn't have to be the highest paid now.
What do you do in your retirement from baseball?
Bench: "I do motivational speaking across the country. I do a lot of outings, appearances at trade shows, work for three or four companies. I've been a spokesperson for a bank in Cincinnati for 28 years. And I have an 11-year-old son that I'm trying to raise.
You were catcher on the All-Century team of the 1900s. Who's the best so far in the 2000s?
Bench: Ivan Rodriguez, head and shoulders. I don't think there's any question."
What makes catchers special?
Bench: "You have to squat down 200 times a day wearing all of that gear and blocking balls in the dirt and having balls bounce off of you. It's just too hard.
Baseball seems to be making a comeback in popularity in recent years. Who deserves credit for that?
Bench: "Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa brought baseball back. You love to love them. Certainly Barry Bonds is hitting a lot of home runs now. He doesn't have the charisma of the McGwire-Sosa thing and people are sitting back and waiting.
How detrimental would another work stoppage be to baseball?
Bench: "I would hate to think what would happen if we have a labor work stoppage. I think it would kill the sport. I really do. I'm very concerned about that."
Should former teammate Pete Rose's ban from baseball keep him from being elected to the Hall of Fame when you look at what he did on the field?
Bench: "That's 12 years old. Let's get some new news."
Should today's players with their mega-million contracts help players who have retired and have fallen on hard times since they earned far less money in their day?
Bench: "The thing that we're concerned about as retired players is the pension fund itself. These gentlemen (today) will never, ever, ever need money when they retire, but yet there's people that played before me that we have to raise funds for every day to get them out of some hovel that they have to live in now and get them medical attention.
Why do big stars not rush into managerial jobs when their playing days are over?
Bench: "The best we ever are is the day we leave the game. No longer do you make outs. All of sudden, for the first time nobody is booing you. You become a manager again to get booed every night?
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.