Johnny Bench Opens the 2022 Industry Summit

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Baseball Hall of Famer and catching legend Johnny Bench helped kick off the conference portion of the 2022 Industry Summit on Monday morning.

Speaking in front of a crowded ballroom of card shop owners and other industry professionals, he led things off with stories from his childhood and his baseball beginnings, tying his lessons into how business owners can be successful.

“If you catch everything that is thrown at you, they’ll say ‘What a catcher!'” Bench noted. “That’s the same with your business. Can you catch everything people throw at you?”

Bench, a two-time World Series winner as a part of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine in 1975 and 1976, didn’t get off to his winning way immediately. His first Little League team was a rag tag group coached by his father. At first, they lost a lot. Even in defeat, his father took him out for cheeseburgers after.

But after practice and playing games like Home Run Derby, the team got better. Eventually, they got to the playoffs and won against an undefeated team. Bench recalled how upset not only the players were, but their coaches and parents as well.

His dad’s response tied it back to the struggles their own team faced and the quiet lessons that came with it, “They haven’t learned how to lose yet, son. Let’s go grab a cheeseburger.”

Bench offered several other ideas and went into his start as a major leaguer making $500 per month.

He even recited Ray Stevens’ “Mr. Businessman.

Towards the end of his presentation, Bench shared what it felt like to share his 1968 Topps Rookie Card with Ron Tompkins.

After cracking a joke about Topps’ Sy Berger, he said, “We don’t care about the money. We just want our picture on a card. We don’t know if we’re going to be on one next year. These things are real. It’s validation.”

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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