Johnny Bench Misses His Hall of Fame Friends

“I get a call from Joe’s lawyer, and he says, ‘Johnny, I don’t think Joe’s going to last through the night.’ And I mean, you hear that and you’re stunned. You sit there and you are numb, and you remember and remember and remember.”

He saved on.

Of all of the departed gamers, he was closest to Morgan. “We just understood each other,” he stated. “As the catcher, I had control of the game. If somebody came in to talk to the pitcher, I went out there, but so did Joe. And if I got there, and they were already talking, well, I knew Joe was telling that pitcher exactly what needed to be said. We had this thing, this little telepathy. We understood each other on the field, and in life.”

By the time Morgan died, on Oct. 11, the losses amongst baseball’s greats had been mounting unfathomably. Three different Hall of Famers had handed away within the previous weeks: the stolen base king Lou Brock and the pitching ace Bob Gibson, World Series winners in 1964 and 1967 with the St. Louis Cardinals; and Whitey Ford, the artful left-handed pitcher who helped the Yankees win six of their eight World Series from 1950 to 1962, lacking the 1951 and 1952 seasons whereas within the Army.

How may it get any worse?

Then got here December and the loss of life of the knuckleball pitcher Phil Niekro, whose finest years have been performed as an Atlanta Brave. As 2021 started, it was Tommy Lasorda, the charismatic supervisor of the Los Angeles Dodgers for 3 many years and two World Series titles. And shortly after that, one of his dominant pitchers, Don Sutton.

Then, on Jan. 22, the beating coronary heart of baseball: Henry Aaron.

“He was simply a man above,” Bench stated. “I called him Henry, and did I ever respect him.”

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