Opening Day Countdown: Quintessential Red #5

John Grieshop

A little late night Johnny.

5. Hobie Landrith (1.1 WAR)

Landrith played for the Reds from 1950 to 1955, another backup catcher. Still, 6 seasons with one team isn't anything to sneeze at, and he played for 8 more years in the league after that.

4. Billy Myers (4.1 WAR)

What, you haven't seen enough scrappy shortstops yet? Myers wore #5 from 1935 to 1937, but ended up playing for the team until 1940. He somehow walked 71 times in 1938, which gave him a career high .369 OBP, but he was known more for his defense.

3. Babe Herman (6.6 WAR)

Herman only played 1 year with the #5 (and 3 total years with the Reds), but had one of his best years, finishing 12th in the MVP voting. He hit .326/.389/.541 that year and led the league in triples with 19. He was the starting right fielder that year, before getting traded to Chicago after the 1932 season.

Trivia: Herman spent his early career with the Dodgers, before getting traded to the Reds. What future Hall of Famer was also included in the deal that took Herman from the Dodgers to Cincinnati?

2. Willard Hershberger (1.8 WAR)

Hersh is one of the saddest stories in Reds history. He broke into the league in 1938 and was basically Ernie Lombardi's backup. He was having a great season in 1940 as well, before a rough doubleheader against Boston.

Hershberger took his own life in the hotel room after the game, to this day the only major league to do so in the middle of a season. The 1940 Reds team was even more motivated than they were before, and wanting to "win it for Hershie", ended up winning the World Series in 1940.

The team retired the number 5 after the incident, but unretired it in 1942, which means our next guy was allowed to have it...

1. Johnny Bench (75.0 WAR)

...and it's permanently retired now. Bench played his entire career with the Reds, from 1967 to 1983. His career started with a bang, as he made the All-Star team in his first full season in 1968, and even won Rookie of the Year that year. He didn't stop there, continuously improving, and in 1970 won his first MVP award. He hit .293/.345/.587 that year (and led the league in homers and RBI), a bona fide slugger at the traditionally weak catching position. He had an even better year in 1972, winning his 2nd MVP, with a higher OBP and league leading RBI and HR totals once again.

He'd finish in the top 5 four times in the MVP race, made 14 All-Star teams, and won 10 Gold Gloves. Arguably, he's the best catcher to play the game, and he spent his entire career in Cincinnati. The quintessential #5, Johnny Bench.

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