Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench is ready to part with some of the items from his career and they’ll be on the auction block next month at the 17th annual Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Live Auction.
Widely regarded as the greatest all-around catcher in history, Bench played 17 seasons, all for the Cincinnati Reds. He won the 1968 National League Rookie of the Year, two MVP awards, ten Gold Gloves, a World Series MVP, two World Series championships and was a member of 14 NL All-Star teams. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1989. His Rookie of the Year trophy, several of his Gold Glove awards and personal World Series trophies will be part of the auction.
“At this point in my life I have decided to share some of the items that I was so honored to acquire during my career with those very same fans that supported me all along the way,” Bench stated. “I want to be able to use the proceeds of this auction to allow my children and grandchildren to celebrate my career with me by providing for their education and other future endeavors. Words can never express how much these honors in my career have meant to me. I hope that my fans will enjoy this auction event and I look forward to revisiting those wonderful ‘Big Red’ seasons with them in the process.”
Among the items that will be offered in the auction:
-1975 Cincinnati Reds World Series trophy (Est. $25,000-$50,000)
-1976 Cincinnati Reds World Series trophy (Est. $25,000-$50,000)
-1970 Cincinnati Reds NL Championship ring (Est. $25,000-$50,000)
-1983 Final Career Home Run (#389) bat (Est. $10,000-$20,000)
-1968 National League Rookie of the Year Award (Est. $25,000-$50,000)
– NL Gold Glove Awards for seasons: 1969-1977 (Est. $15,000-$30,000each)
-1983 Cincinnati Reds home jersey (Est. $15,000-$25,000)
-1989 “The Catcher” original painting by Leroy Neiman (Est. $20,000-$40,000)
– 1970s game-used catcher’s mitt (Est. $15,000-$25,000)
“His statistics certainly speak volumes to the accomplished Hall of Fame career he enjoyed with the Cincinnati Reds, but Johnny meant so much more to the game then his stat lines,” said David Hunt, President of Hunt Auctions, which has conducted each of the 17 Louisville Slugger Museum auctions. “Through 14 All-Star Games, countless playoff appearances, or even the Baseball Bunch television show Johnny Bench was a consistent ambassador for the game and beloved by fans alike.”
Bench will turn 73 in December. He lives in Florida with his son Bobby and younger sons Justin, 14, and Josh, 11.
“How do you divide it up when you have three boys and you got two things?” Bench told the Associated Press. “If they had said, `No, Dad you can’t sell those,’ it would have made a difference. They’re two generations removed from what I did.”
“He entrusted our factory with crafting his baseball bats throughout his legendary career. Choosing our museum now for this next phase in his family life allows us to celebrate not only one of the greatest hitters of the game but also a longtime fan-favorite statesman of the sport,” said Anne Jewell, VP and Executive Director of Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, which presented Bench with its Living Legend Award several years ago.
The auction will also feature the fifth major installment of the Green Diamond Gallery Collection. Among the items that will be up for bid:
-1970 Ernie Banks Chicago Cubs home jersey (Est. $100,000-$150,000)
-1957 Ted Williams Boston Red Sox home jersey (Est. $75,000-$125,000)
-1948 Mel Ott New York Giants road jersey (Ott family) (Est. $100,000-$150,000)
-1970 Harmon Killebrew Minnesota Twins road jersey (Est. $15,000-$25,000)
-Casey Stengel New York Mets road jersey c.1962-65 (Photo match) (Est. $40,000-$60,000)
-1962 Yogi Berra autographed professional model baseball bat (Est. $7,500-$12,500
-Mike “King” Kelly autographed 1892 Social Invitation (Est. $10,000-$20,000)
There will be a public preview at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory on November 12 and 13 with the live auction taking place on Saturday November 14.
Seat reservations for live auction attendance must be made in advance through Hunt Auctions.
The annual free appraisal fair for vintage sports items will take place during the auction preview hours on November 12 and 13 by appointment.
Online bidding will take place on the company’s website.