Johnny Bench was money in the bank during his Hall of Fame baseball career with the Cincinnati Reds. And the items from Bench’s personal collection that were part of the 17th Annual Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Live Auction, hosted by Hunt Auctions, banked some large figures.
The auction ended Saturday and racked up nearly $2 million in sales from Bench’s memorabilia collection.
Bench’s World Series rings from 1975 and 1976, plus his 1970 National League MVP award, were the big draws during the auction, which included online and live bidding.
The 1976 World Series ring, when Bench was the MVP as the Big Red Machine swept the New York Yankees, went for $146,875, while his 1975 World Series ring and 1970 NL MVP trophy each sold for $135,125.
The collection of Bench’s 10 Gold Glove awards, which he won from 1968 to 1977, fetched $393,375 in total. A Reds home jersey worn by Bench during 1983, his final season, sold for $105,750. Also, during that final season, the bat Bench used to hit the last of his 389 career home runs — a two-run, third-inning shot against Houston Astros pitcher Mike Madden at Riverfront Stadium — sold for $94,000.
Bench said he was going to use the funds raised to provide for his grandchildren’s education and his children’s future.
Some of the other items in the Bench catalog included his 1975 World Series trophy, earned from one of baseball’s most dramatic postseason series, also fetched five figures, at $88,125.
A 1970s catcher’s mitt Bench used sold for $76,375, while his 1968 NL Rookie of the Year Award — won by a single vote over New York Mets pitcher Jerry Koosman — and his 1970 NL championship ring brought $29,375 apiece.
All final prices reflect a buyer’s premium.
More than 100 items from Bench’s collection, dating from his minor league career until he hung up his mask and shin guards, were included in the auction.
“Simply stated, Johnny Bench is universally regarded as one of the finest players in the history of the game,” Hunt Auctions President David Hunt said. “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 than his stat lines. 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. The incredible prices realized within the auction today only serve as further confirmation of Johnny’s legacy within the game and his fans.”
Anne Jewell, the executive director of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, said Bench “delivered another unforgettable home run for his fans and our lucky guests.”
“We are thrilled and honored that Johnny Bench chose the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Live Auction for his historic collection,” Jewell said. “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.”