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Archive for June 21st, 2020

Cincinnati Reds announce 2020 Johnny Bench Award winners


The award's namesake, Johnny Bench 2014 photo By EricEnfermero - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https

Honoring top high school and college baseball and softball catchers

June 18, 2020

Ten winners of the 2020 Johnny Bench Awards have been announced, which honor the top NCAA Division I male and female college catchers along with the top high school baseball and softball catchers from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia.

The 2020 Johnny Bench Awards are presented by MSA Sport and Ohio’s 529 Plan CollegeAdvantage.

“My sincere congratulations to this year’s winners because each one is a superstar catcher,” said Johnny Bench. “We are proud to honor these athletes based on their overall school careers despite not being able to finish the season this year. We wish them the best of luck on the next steps of their athletic and academic careers.”

Top male NCAA baseball catcher

• Patrick Bailey – North Carolina State University (drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft)

Top female NCAA softball catcher

• Morganne Flores – University of Washington

Top catchers from Ohio

• Mason Sawyer – Bishop Hartley High School (baseball)

• Zoie Smith – Pickerington Central High School (softball)

Top catchers from Kentucky

• Grant Knipp – Louisville Male High School (baseball)

• Taylor Jackson – Oldham County High School (softball)

Top catchers from Indiana

• Dalton Back – Columbus East High School (baseball)

• Taryn Weddle – Floyd Central High School (softball)

Top catchers from West Virginia

• Eli Kirkendoll – Lincoln County High School (baseball)

• Jess Canterbury – Herbert Hoover High School (softball)

The ten winners will be honored on June 24 during a Zoom call hosted by Johnny and Reds/FOX Sports Ohio broadcaster Jim Day.

Each winner will receive an individual trophy and will also be recognized on an award at the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum.

Previous collegiate winners include National League MVP and World Series champion Buster Posey of the Giants and established big leaguers such as Kelly Shoppach, Ryan Garko and Kurt Suzuki.

The full list of previous winners can be found at

About the Johnny Bench Award

The Johnny Bench Award is presented annually to college baseball’s top catcher. The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission created the award in 2000 and dedicated it to Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench. In 2019, the Cincinnati Reds and Johnny Bench, along with the Reds Community Fund, expanded the awards to include high school catchers. The awards were permanently relocated to the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum at Great American Ball Park. The awards committee determined the winners with support from local media and organizations in each state including West Virginia Prep Baseball Report, USA Baseball, USA Softball, the Cincinnati Enquirer and Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association. The Reds Scouting Department provided additional input for the baseball categories.

Read more: Cincinnati Reds


Detroit Tigers agree to contract with former Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler


Dillon Dingler (10) after scoring a run (courtesy

June 18, 2020

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have announced that they have agreed to terms with second round pick Dillon Dingler, a catcher from Ohio State University. With the signing of Dingler, the Tigers have now agreed to terms with three of their six selections from the 2020 MLB Draft.

Dingler, 21, played in 115 games over his three years with the Buckeyes, hitting .276/.367/.442 with 21 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs and 50 RBI. The 6-2, 215-pound catcher was named second team All-Big Ten and to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team as a sophomore in 2019, and was selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2018.

Dingler put up impressive numbers in his shortened junior season, batting .340/.404/.760 with four doubles, one triple, five home runs and 14 RBI. At the time that the 2020 season concluded, Dingler was tied for the Big Ten lead in home runs, while he was second in the conference, 23rd nationally and sixth among all Division I catchers in slugging percentage.

Read more: Detroit Tigers



Mariners broadcaster Dave Sims moderated Black voices in Baseball virtual panel

Moderated a panel with four of the Mariners African-American players on their experiences in life and baseball as Black men

June 17, 2020

As our nation continues to grapple with how to combat systemic racism, four of the 10 African-American players on the Seattle Mariners 40 Man Roster sat down with broadcaster Dave Sims for a virtual panel discussion about their experiences as Black men in life and in baseball.

The panel will premiere on the Mariners YouTube channel at 11:00am Friday, which is Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Participating in the panel were infielders Dee Gordon, J.P. Crawford, Shed Long Jr., and outfielder Kyle Lewis. The panel was moderated by Mariners broadcaster Dave Sims, one of only two African-American play-by-play broadcasters in MLB. Panelists spoke frankly about their experiences living in a racist society, their hopes for what we as a nation can be, and their apprehension about speaking up.

Dave Sims (courtesy Seattle Mariners)

“We’re scared to say this. We’re nervous. The reason we’re nervous is we’ve been told our whole life and our whole careers to don’t say anything. Don’t ruffle any feathers. Don’t, pretty much stand up for yourself as a man and for your family’s name,” said Gordon.

Growing up the son of a Major League pitcher, Gordon said he didn’t play organized baseball until high school because there weren’t any other Black kids who played. The numbers haven’t improved much. Out of 882 players on Major League rosters last opening day, only 68 were African American.

“You know, it’s been tough. Being a Black baseball player isn’t easy. At all,” said Gordon.

If they manage to beat the odds and make it into professional baseball, Black players face obstacles that aren’t in the path of their white teammates. Outfielder Kyle Lewis recalled being the target of a racist act during one minor league season when he had been playing especially well.

“There’s a ball in my locker that says, ‘learn to swim.’ Nobody said anything. Everybody was sitting around tight-lipped. I wasn’t really getting a lot of support from my teammates, as if none of them supposedly knew what happened and somehow nobody had any idea. The only people that would have had access that deep into the locker room would have been probably a teammate. That stung pretty good,” said Lewis.

Crawford says he learned early on that getting by, let alone succeeding, required meeting some mythical standard of excellence.

“You always have to be one step better, one step ahead all the time because you know, you make one little mistake and you’re done. it’s sad to say. But we don’t get the chances, all the other stuff that people get. My dad taught us always stay ready, always stay sharp, don’t let this opportunity slip away, at all, because you get one chance. You get one chance. You’re already down two strikes, this is your last strike. It’s just tough man, said Crawford.

The players all say they’re encouraged by the national reckoning that seems to be occurring after still more killings of African-Americans by police officers, and they’re thankful for the support they’ve received from other Mariners players.

“If you want to stand with us, then stand. But we fought for so long we know how to fight it. So we’re going to fight and stand up for ourselves regardless whether you stand with us or not,” said Long.

The fact that the Mariners have 10 African-American players on the 40 Man Roster, by far the highest number in Major League Baseball, has helped them find a sense of community on the field and in the clubhouse.

“We definitely don’t take this for granted. It’s probably something that’s never been done since the Negro Leagues. I’m proud to be a part of this. I’m proud to be playing alongside each and every one of my teammates right now. Coming up we were one of the two brothers on the team, if that, so being a part of this has been something special,” said Crawford.

Gordon is hopeful that the protests and the nascent efforts toward reforms will continue and lead to lasting change around racial justice and equity.

“If we’re the grownups that change the world? It will be like Jackie Robinson and what he did all over again,” said Gordon. “I think it’s time for that.”

Read more: Seattle Mariners


NHL issues Statement on Phase 2 Testing

NEW YORK (June 19, 2020) – The National Hockey League today released the following statement on Phase 2 testing:


Since NHL Clubs were permitted to open their training facilities on June 8, all Players entering these facilities for voluntary training have been subject to mandatory testing for COVID-19. Through today, in excess of 200 Players have undergone multiple testing. A total of 11 of these Players have tested positive. All Players who have tested positive have been self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols.


The NHL will provide a weekly update on the number of tests administered to Players and the results of those tests. The League will not be providing information on the identity of the Players or their Clubs.