Bench, who is not exactly a retiring violet, had something of the same idea, and thus it was with a certain amount of shock at contract time that he found the Reds unwilling to meet his asking price for '69. So he held out and got his $25,000.
As it happens, there has never been a $100,000 catcher. "Yeah, well, there hasn't been until now," says Bench. "There's going to be one. If McCarver doesn't make it first. I'd like to make more than $100,000.
"I have some mutual funds and some stocks started. It would cost me more to have a financial adviser now than the finances I have. But a good year this year and I'll have an agent. I want to be comfortable when I get out. I'd like to have some time off to rest and to do what I want. Like Ted Williams."
According to Culver, Bench is sometimes called Corkhead—because of the size of his head. "He hates it," says Culver, "but a guy like that, you don't want to think of an ordinary name like Cork.
"Most guys you read so much about, you see them a couple of times and eh...but John always lives up to it. He's a little too cocky sometimes. He got a little pumped up last year. But with all that publicity, there would have been something wrong with him if he hadn't."
One day last year a girl brought Bench a scrapbook of his clippings that she had compiled and wanted him to autograph. Before signing it he could not resist the temptation to go through it. One by one a dozen or so Reds came up behind him and started reading it over his shoulder. When, at length, he looked up and saw the crowd that had assembled, he turned a good seven-eighths Redman. It was one of the few times anybody can remember seeing him embarrassed.
"Someday I'd like to sing," Bench said last week. "I'd have to take a lot of lessons. But I'd like to know in my mind that I could sing and other people would enjoy me. As to what kind of singing, I'd just have to see. I don't think I could be a psychedelic singer or anything like that.
"Now, I like to go to discoth�ques. I do the Funky Broadway, the Tighten Up, the Four-Corner and the Horse. In Tampa the dancing hasn't caught up to Cincinnati's. In Oklahoma they~ just have teen hops. I avoid those, I guess.
"I don't think I could go anywhere without music. In the car or at home. It's hard for me to sit down and read a book. I don't know what I've got in my blood, but it keeps me running right now." He lives in The Forum, a Cincinnati apartment complex for young singles, and he has plenty of social life, but by all accounts he does not dissipate.
So, granted that he takes care of himself and granted that catching was a good passport into the big time—don't catchers wear out awfully fast? "Well," he says, "you find the old catchers still around, because they can catch the ball. But it's true that a catcher's plentiful years are short. I don't figure to be around playing for 20 years. I don't want to be."