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remdog
08-12-2007, 04:53 PM
From Sun Deck: By Kaldanials:"Does anyone have details about the J Bench story in Bill Simmons mailbag this week.

It tells of the time Bench kept getting shook off by a pitcher who wanted to throw a fastball, so JB proceeded to catch the next fastball with his bare hand to prove a point.

Simmons ranked it the #1 manliest act in sports."

Seems to me that it was Gerry Arrigo. IIRC, Bench wanted a breaking pitch and Arrigo wanted to throw a fastball. He kept shaking Bench off. Finally, Bench flashed the sign for a fastball. The batter took the pitch and Bench caught it barehanded. Supposedly, Arrigo never again shook off Bench.

Rem

edabbs44
08-12-2007, 05:08 PM
Fascinating accounts, stories, and even myths about how fast - or not so fast - a pitch has gone are common in the annals of the game. One such account allegedly took place during a Spring Training game in 1968. A rookie catcher named Johnny Bench was behind the plate and eight-year veteran Jim Maloney was on the mound. Bench continuously called for breaking balls and Maloney continuously shook him off. Frustrated, the two met at the mound where Bench bluntly said, "Your fastball's not popping." Maloney, also blunt, replied, "%*$@ you." The rookie returned to his position behind the plate and called for a curve, only to be shaken off again. Bench gave in to the veteran (who had recently strung together four consecutive seasons with 200+ strikeouts) and signaled for a fastball. Maloney delivered. Before the pitch reached the plate Bench dropped his glove and caught the ball bare-handed - or so the story goes.

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/fastest-pitcher-in-baseball.shtml

Ron Madden
08-12-2007, 05:15 PM
I doubt JB ever caught a Jim Maloney fastball bare-handed.

corkedbat
08-12-2007, 05:54 PM
I watched Johnny catch. He had two hands. I seriously doubt he caught Maloney bare-handed, Even on an off-day a Maloney FB was some serious heat in his day.

RedsBaron
08-12-2007, 06:09 PM
I watched Johnny catch. He had two hands. I seriously doubt he caught Maloney bare-handed, Even on an off-day a Maloney FB was some serious heat in his day.

I vaguely recall that story, but, like Rem, I recall the pitcher being Arrigo. Maloney in his prime threw around 98 mph. I very much doubt that Bench ever tried to catch Maloney bare-handed.
The story would not nearly as impressive if Bench had been catching most of the pitchers on the present day Reds staff.

DiamondRat
08-12-2007, 06:44 PM
According to the book Catch You Later by Johnny Bench, the pitcher was Arrigo. Johnny reached out with his bear hand and caught it like a tennis ball.

Always Red
08-12-2007, 07:10 PM
I had a chance to talk with John Bench for a few minutes this spring at a local sports stag dinner.

I asked him who threw the very hardest during his years behind the plate, and he did not hesitate in his answer: "Wayne Simpson wore me out; no one threw harder than he did in 1970."

I only had a minute with him, and I'd have loved to have asked him who was pitching when he caught the ball bare handed. I've read that legend many times, and it's always been an anonymous pitcher. This is the first time that I've read it was Maloney. I think Maloney threw as hard, if not harder, than Simpson did?

BCubb2003
08-12-2007, 07:45 PM
I had a chance to talk with John Bench for a few minutes this spring at a local sports stag dinner.

I asked him who threw the very hardest during his years behind the plate, and he did not hesitate in his answer: "Wayne Simpson wore me out; no one threw harder than he did in 1970."

I only had a minute with him, and I'd have loved to have asked him who was pitching when he caught the ball bare handed. I've read that legend many times, and it's always been an anonymous pitcher. This is the first time that I've read it was Maloney. I think Maloney threw as hard, if not harder, than Simpson did?

Maloney threw as hard as Gibson and almost as hard as Koufax. He's unsung, but he was a rival of those guys.

RFS62
08-12-2007, 08:04 PM
No possible way it was Maloney.

Johnny had big hands.

remdog
08-12-2007, 08:08 PM
The story would not nearly as impressive if Bench had been catching most of the pitchers on the present day Reds staff.

:laugh:That's funny! Unfortunately, it's also sad. :(

Maloney could really bring it. He was the type of pitcher that left hitters thinking, 'I didn't really see that pitch but it sure sounded good!" ;)

Arrigo, on the other hand, was a soft-tossing lefty that thought more of his fastball than Bench did; which, of course is the point of the story. :)

Whether it's exactly true or not, it certainly is one of those stories that get passed down from generation to generation.

Rem

traderumor
08-12-2007, 08:14 PM
According to the book Catch You Later by Johnny Bench, the pitcher was Arrigo. Johnny reached out with his bear hand and caught it like a tennis ball.
That would seem to clinch the veracity of the story, unless Johnny is a bald-faced liar, which I haven't known him to be.

Blitz Dorsey
08-12-2007, 09:13 PM
I also wondered about this when I read Simmons' column on ESPN today. I couldn't imagine something like that took place and I didn't already know about it. But it sounds legit.

And yes, it must have been Arrigo in a real game (not spring training). For Simmons to rank it as the "No. 1 manliest act ever in sports" there is no way it could have taken place in an exhibition game. And I can't imagine Johnny would lie about something like that in his book when there would be plenty of his ex-teammates who could confirm or deny it. It must have happened. And I'm ashamed of myself that I didn't know about it until now. Ha.

mth123
08-12-2007, 10:39 PM
I think this is a myth.

When I was a kid, my Dad told me the same story about Ernie Lombardi.

Blitz Dorsey
08-12-2007, 10:42 PM
I think this is a myth.

When I was a kid, my Dad told me the same story about Ernie Lombardi.

so you believe that bench was lying in his book? no way.

mth123
08-12-2007, 11:03 PM
so you believe that bench was lying in his book? no way.

All I know is I heard that story about Lombardi before anyone ever heard of Johnny Bench. I don't remember for sure who the pitcher was.

Blitz Dorsey
08-12-2007, 11:06 PM
Well, maybe it happened twice. Or possibly the story about Lombardi was not true. I can't confirm it obviously, but I have a very hard time believing that Johnny would lie in his own book. And if he did, someone would have called him out on it.

mth123
08-12-2007, 11:11 PM
Well, maybe it happened twice. Or possibly the story about Lombardi was not true. I can't confirm it obviously, but I have a very hard time believing that Johnny would lie in his own book. And if he did, someone would have called him out on it.

I have no idea. I never really believed it was true about Lombardi either if that matters. If it did happen, maybe the Lombardi story is what gave Bench the idea.

SandyD
08-12-2007, 11:34 PM
When Johnny Vander Meer was wild, Lombardi would catch pitches that were 2 feet off the plate with his bare hand.

According to Bill James New Historical Abstract

mth123
08-12-2007, 11:41 PM
When Johnny Vander Meer was wild, Lombardi would catch pitches that were 2 feet off the plate with his bare hand.

According to Bill James New Historical Abstract

Thanks. Maybe that is the origin, but the story I heard was more like the one related about Bench. Lombardi took off his glove before the pitch to put some young pitcher in his place.

SandyD
08-12-2007, 11:49 PM
Could be. And it wouldn't really surprise me, to be honest.

remdog
08-12-2007, 11:53 PM
Maybe Bench had heard that story about Lombardi and decided to do it himself.

Rem

mth123
08-12-2007, 11:58 PM
Maybe Bench had heard that story about Lombardi himself and decided it was a good way to put the pitcher in his place so he did it himself.

Rem

That is what I'm thinking. My Dad related that Lombardi story many times. My dad was a huge baseball fan during his life and would have been in his late teens/early 20s during Lombardi's hey day.

LINEDRIVER
08-13-2007, 01:47 AM
I think this is a myth.

When I was a kid, my Dad told me the same story about Ernie Lombardi.

I read an account of this Bench story in a Sunday edition of a Los Angeles newspaper that was in my high school library in St.Bernard, Ohio back in 1968. The story told of Bench grabbing Arrigo's pitch barehanded and then throwing the ball back to Arrigo so hard that the ball knocked the glove off Arrigo's hand.

About 5-6 yrs ago, I spoke to Billy McCool who was a lefty reliever for the Reds back in those days. I asked McCool about the Bench/Arrigo thing. He remembered Bench grabbing Arrigo's pitch and he thought it happened in Dodger Stadium, though he could not remember anything about Bench's throw knocking Arrigo's glove off his hand.

McCool also mentioned that Arrigo had some unbelievable stuff....while warming up in the bullpen. Once he crossed the chalk line and got on the mound, that great stuff usually went kaput.

I also asked McCool what was it like to see hard-throwing teenage phenom Gary Nolan break into the big leagues in '67. Billy said Nolan came to the Reds with much more poise and polish than could of been imagined. McCool also mentioned that most guys would stop and watch Mel Queen warm-up. Queen, a onetime weak-hitting spare outfielder turned pitcher, could throw mighty hard and he got alot of attention when his tosses smacked hard into a catcher's mitt.

SteelSD
08-13-2007, 02:08 AM
There's no possible way that Bench caught a Jim Maloney fastball with his bare hands without breaking one or both of said hands. And considering that Bench was a rookie in 1969, I have a real hard time with the idea that a rook Catcher would be that ballsy with Jim Maloney in the first place.

Urban legends are fun, but there's no way that happened.

remdog
08-13-2007, 02:16 AM
There's no possible way that Bench caught a Jim Maloney fastball with his bare hands without breaking one or both of said hands. And considering that Bench was a rookie in 1969, I have a real hard time with the idea that a rook Catcher would be that ballsy with Jim Maloney in the first place.

Urban legends are fun, but there's no way that happened.

Johnny Bench's first game was 8/28/67. His rookie year was 1968 when he played 154 games and had 564 ABs. Jim Maloney was with the Reds into the 1970 season before he want to the Angels in '71.

The consensus is that the pitcher was Jerry Arrigo not Maloney.

Rem

RedsBaron
08-13-2007, 07:40 AM
There's no possible way that Bench caught a Jim Maloney fastball with his bare hands without breaking one or both of said hands. And considering that Bench was a rookie in 1969, I have a real hard time with the idea that a rook Catcher would be that ballsy with Jim Maloney in the first place.

Urban legends are fun, but there's no way that happened.

While I agree that Bench would not have tried to catch Maloney bare-handed, I can recall articles back in 1967-68 stating that Bench indeed would stand right up to Maloney, as if JB was the grizzled veteran and Maloney the rookie.

Heath
08-13-2007, 08:21 AM
The story was Gerry Arrigo did the pitching and Bench caught itbare handed.

It was in "Catch you later" and in "Big Red Dynasty".

Spitball
08-13-2007, 09:06 AM
I remember the Maloney story, minus the barehanded catch, appearing in a national publication probably in 1969 or 1970. It was the lead-in to a story about a youthful Bench which focused on his take charge personality. The purpose of the lead-in was to demonstrate how Bench was not timid about taking charge of a game even with the experienced and successful Maloney.

I believe the story may have been in Life or Time and was entitled "The General" or "The Young General." I saved the magazine and it is probably still somewhere in my parents' home in Massachusetts.

If I managed a team and an extremely promising young catcher caught a veteran's fastball with his barehand, I would have taken him from the game in a nano-instant. In my opinion, he shouldn't have disgraced a teammate nor risked serious injury for the purpose of making an emphatic statement.

redsmetz
03-07-2012, 02:35 PM
I read an account of this Bench story in a Sunday edition of a Los Angeles newspaper that was in my high school library in St.Bernard, Ohio back in 1968. The story told of Bench grabbing Arrigo's pitch barehanded and then throwing the ball back to Arrigo so hard that the ball knocked the glove off Arrigo's hand.

About 5-6 yrs ago, I spoke to Billy McCool who was a lefty reliever for the Reds back in those days. I asked McCool about the Bench/Arrigo thing. He remembered Bench grabbing Arrigo's pitch and he thought it happened in Dodger Stadium, though he could not remember anything about Bench's throw knocking Arrigo's glove off his hand.

McCool also mentioned that Arrigo had some unbelievable stuff....while warming up in the bullpen. Once he crossed the chalk line and got on the mound, that great stuff usually went kaput.

I also asked McCool what was it like to see hard-throwing teenage phenom Gary Nolan break into the big leagues in '67. Billy said Nolan came to the Reds with much more poise and polish than could of been imagined. McCool also mentioned that most guys would stop and watch Mel Queen warm-up. Queen, a onetime weak-hitting spare outfielder turned pitcher, could throw mighty hard and he got alot of attention when his tosses smacked hard into a catcher's mitt.

OK, I'm just going to pull this thread forward rather than take up space in the Spring Training Articles thread on this question.

Yesterday I cited this post in this thread writing:


We had a thread about this five years ago. Here's one post with Linedriver recounting a conversation with Billy McCool recalling it, suggesting it may have happened in L.A. Arrigo pitched three games at Dodgers Stadium that year, so maybe I'll look for some press accounts for those games. If I had to guess, it would be the losing effort on July 7, 1968 - the other two were low scoring shutouts. If he was lacking his fastball, it was probably the losing effort.

http://www.redszone.com/forums/showp...7&postcount=23

I just noted the comment about reading about it in the Sunday edition of the L.A. Times. Of the three games, the May 4th game was on a Saturday (not to mention being during the school year), so it may be that game. I'm heading down to the library this evening, maybe I'll pull up a 1968 copy of the paper to see if there's a real time report on it in the Cincy papers.

I went to the downtown library last night and went through the Enquirer copies for 1968. I pulled up the Sunday May 5th edition, but they only covered the first couple of innings since it was a night game on the West Coast. In Monday's paper, they did the full story as they used to do on these western trips.

The lead for the story was that Arrigo told Dave Bristol that he had nothing that night. Bristol told him not to go into looking at the negative. He proceed to pitch a complete game shut-out (his first of the season) and even had a triple. There is no mention in this story of the barehanded catch which you think would be of some note. I noticed they have out of town newspapers catalogued, but didn't look to see if the L.A. Times was one. I'll check next time I go down, since I'm heading down there each Tuesday while my wife has a book group.

By the way, the 1968 story mentioned that Arrigo was an Amelia, Ohio native and it appears he still lives there. Somebody go ask him, will ya?

Funny thing though. My main purpose was to do some genealogy work & I've been working on my Dad's paternal grandmother's line having just come up with a breakthrough. I was looking for her obituary from August of 1932 to see if it hopefully identified her parents. I know her father's name, but not her mother's (what the heck is up with folks not knowing these things???). I found the obit, but it pretty much just identified my great-grandpa, who was deceased by then, and my grandpa & his siblings.

But while going through the pages of the paper, I noticed the sports pages. One story was about Honus Wagner coming to town for an old-timers game (he was 15 years retired, 58 years old). Coming for his first of such feats, was the recently retired Edd Roush, looking good at age 39.

But the funny headline that caught my eye was "936 Reds Stranded." The story led off with the "old time" base by base baseball (some things never change, right?) and how the 1932 Reds weren't getting done, having already stranded 936 baserunners so far that season, with still another month and a half to go. For the 154 game season, they only scored 575 runs and allowed 715 runs, finishing in last place & only winning 60 games. Ouch. I love seeing these old stories though.

medford
03-07-2012, 03:08 PM
Jim Frey agrees, Bench would never lie in his own memoir.

either way, who cares, why let the truth get in the way of a great story :)

oneupper
03-07-2012, 03:42 PM
I've heard this story since the '70s. I think I read it first in Baseball Digest or "Baseball Stars of 1971". At least it has been consistent. (No Maloney).

redsmetz
03-07-2012, 05:12 PM
I've heard this story since the '70s. I think I read it first in Baseball Digest or "Baseball Stars of 1971". At least it has been consistent. (No Maloney).

Because we all not that a barehanded catch of Maloney would be baloney! :laugh:

SunDeck
03-07-2012, 05:33 PM
There is a story about Bench and (IIRC) Maloney getting into an argument on the mound during Bench's rookie year. As I remember it, Maloney told the story to describe how ballsy Bench was, something like "I just couldn't believe this rookie kid would come out to the mound and yell at me..who did he think he was?" The point to be made by Maloney was that Bench was the real deal right from the start, whether an established veteran cared or not.

I'm guessing this and the Arrigo story are getting mixed up. Maloney's fastball would not have lacked pop in Bench's rookie year. There would have been no discussion of it.