1. Johnny Bench, Catcher (1967-83)
Is there any doubt that Johnny Bench would make the Mount Rushmore of former Cincinnati Reds greats? Bench played for the Reds throughout his entire career, and you’ll find very few who will argue that he was the greatest catcher to ever play the game.
Bench debuted in 1967, but played only 26 games that season. The following year, Bench won the Rookie of the Year Award, a Gold Glove and made a trip to the All-Star Game. That would be the norm for the next decade.
From 1967 to 1980, Bench collected 13 All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, two MVPs and two World Series titles. Bench also finished in the Top 10 of the MVP vote on three other occasions and took home the World Series MVP in the 1976 sweep of the New York Yankees. Bench hit .533 with two home runs during the series.
Bench closed out his Reds career, playing 110 games in 1983. Bench hit .255 that season with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs, earning him his 14th and final trip to the Midsummer Classic. During Bench’s final game in front of the home crowd at Riverfront Stadium, the backstop from Oklahoma hit a home run over the left field fence and rounded the bases one last time.
Johnny Bench is an icon in the sport of baseball. He revolutionized the position and was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989, receiving 96% of the votes, the third-highest total at that time. Bench’s No. 5 was retired by the Cincinnati Reds in 1986 and the former catcher is immortalized in the Reds Hall of Fame.