Originally Posted by Newport Red
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.
The true story as I understand it. Maloney was on the backside of the peak of being at the top of his game, and Bench showed him his usual flaming FB wasn't getting it. This story has been turned into legend, by so many to elevate Bench's already much deserved stature. Make no mistake, for those first few years, Bench was the greatest to ever play his position. But, after the lung surgery, and the infamous collision, he was reduced to just another catcher. For those few years though, he was indeed the greatest the position ever saw. No lesser than the fellow great, Bill Dickey, said so. NO ONE, tried his arm in those years. In his latter years, he maintained--- as Curt Gowdy once said of Bench, "the flair for the dramatic".