The first athlete’s autograph I ever acquired was Johnny Bench’s. He signed a little scrap of paper from my notebook when I was about 6 years old. I had that scrap for years, until our basement flooded and destroyed most of my collection. Sad day.
Johnny played for the Reds from 1967 to 1983 and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He was voted into the All-Star game 14 times, and twice won the National League’s MVP award. Bench and the legendary Big Red Machine of the ’70s won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two consecutive World Series championships. ESPN has even called him the greatest catcher in baseball history. I couldn’t agree more.
This design came together pretty quickly. I knew I wanted to do something with that square pattern once I saw it, and I haven’t given Johnny enough attention on these cards yet.