Iconic Reds card: Bench in '69

April 7th, 2021

As part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Topps baseball cards, we've asked fans (as well as our staff) to submit their all-time favorite baseball cards, and we've broken them down by team. We'll be revealing submissions regularly throughout the season, ranging from the famous to the weird, and everything in between.

To begin the series we'll be looking at one iconic card from each team.

Iconic Reds card: Johnny Bench, 1969 Topps

This is a beautiful card. There is so much to love -- a young Johnny Bench posing in the catcher's squat, Crosley Field with the advertisements on the outfield walls, Bench right along the left-field line, and how about that uniform? It's no wonder this is a favorite of so many, including Don from Iberia, Ohio, Alex G. from New York City and Seth from Cincinnati.

Considered by many to be the greatest catcher in baseball history, as well as a huge cog for the "Big Red Machine" Reds, who won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and '76, the '69 Topps card captures Bench at 20 years old, just before he won the '68 National League Rookie of the Year Award.

"Bench was like a superhero behind the plate growing up, incomparable, and that card of him so young yet so good, a rising star coming out of the '60s kind of encapsulates a time for me," wrote Alex.

Seth has a great memory of this card being his favorite in a collection in his father's office while he was growing up.

"In the bottom right drawer [of the desk] there were about nine sheets of baseball cards he was able to save from his own childhood," Seth wrote. "There were plenty of treasured cards in there that hadn’t suffered their demise in the spokes of a bike, but this was the only one I cared about. I imagine I went into that office about once a week for a decade to look at this card. It’s tattered and worn, exactly like an old catcher’s mitt, but it’s Johnny Bench, and it’s amazing."

Bench, of course, needs no introduction. The Hall of Famer spent 17 seasons behind the plate for Cincinnati, winning the NL MVP Award in both 1970 and '72. He was also a 10-time Gold Glove Award winner, a 14-time All-Star and the MVP of the 1976 World Series against the Yankees.

Bench had it all when it came to slugging and catching, just like this 1969 Topps card of his has it all when it comes to aesthetics.