Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States, he grew up to become a professional baseball player who spent his entire 17 season major league career with the Cincinnati Reds, and was a key part of the dominating "Big Red Machine" of the early 1970s. Some consider him to be the best catcher ever to play the game.
Coming up with the Reds' organistion, his promise was immediately apparent, winning him the 1968 NL Rookie of the Year. Whilst possibly not as great a threat on offense as some (such as Roy Campanella or Yogi Berra), Bench was a solid power hitter, and his great defensive skill won him 10 Gold Gloves as well as the NL MVP award in 1970 and again in 1972, helping the Reds to the World Series title on both occasions, He also hit 389 career home runs, and held the record for most home runs by a catcher (a record since broken by Carlton Fisk). He was elected to the United States Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989, appearing on 96% of the ballots.