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Benny Bengough

Benny Bengough
Catcher
Born: (1898-07-27)July 27, 1898
Niagara Falls, New York
Died: December 22, 1968(1968-12-22) (aged 70)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 18, 1923 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
September 24, 1932 for the St. Louis Browns
Career statistics
Batting average .255
Hits 287
Runs batted in 108
Teams

Career highlights and awards

Bernard Oliver "Benny" Bengough (July 27, 1898 – December 22, 1968) was an American professional baseball player and coach.[1] He played the majority of his Major League Baseball career as a catcher for the New York Yankees during the 1920s when the team garnered the nickname of Murderers' Row, due to their potent batting lineup.[1][2] He played the final two seasons of his career with the St. Louis Browns.[1] Bengough was a light-hitting, defensive specialist. After his playing career, he spent 18 seasons as a major league coach.[3]

Baseball career

Born in Niagara Falls, New York, Bengough was a graduate of Niagara University.[4] He began his professional baseball career at the age of 18 with the Buffalo Bisons of the International League in 1917.[5] After having played for six seasons in Buffalo, he made his major league debut with the Yankees on May 18, 1923 at the age of 24.[1] 1923 was also the first year the Yankees played their home games in Yankee Stadium. At the beginning of his playing career, Bengough served as a back up catcher to Wally Schang.[4] On June 1, 1925, the same day that Lou Gehrig replaced Wally Pipp as the Yankees' first baseman, Bengough was given the Yankees' starting catcher's job.[3] He ended the season with a .258 batting average along with a career-high 14 doubles and 23 runs batted in.[1]

Although Bengough was a good defensive player, his offense did not satisfy Yankees manager Miller Huggins and, he returned to his role as a backup catcher for the next few seasons.[6][7] He had a close friendship with teammate Babe Ruth, both on and off the field.[8] In 1926, Bengough developed a recurring throwing arm injury and the ailment would keep him from playing in the 1926 World Series.[4][9] He began to play regularly late in the 1928 season and started in all four games of the 1928 World Series, as the Yankees swept the St. Louis Cardinals.[10][11] He led American League catchers in 1928 with a .992 fielding percentage.[12]

Bengough's arm injury continued to hamper him during spring training in 1929 as Bill Dickey took over as the Yankees starting catcher, going on to a successful career and eventual induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.[13][14] In 1930, the Yankees released Bengough to the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association.[1][5] In July 1931, he returned to the major leagues with the St. Louis Browns, where he served as a backup catcher to future Hall of Fame member, Rick Ferrell.[1][5] He played in his final major league game on September 24, 1932.[1] Bengough then returned to the minor leagues where he served as a player-manager for the Washington Generals of the Pennsylvania State Association in 1933 and 1934.[15] He became the player-manager of the Joplin Miners from 1936 to 1937 before retiring as a player at the age of 38.[3][15]

Career statistics

In a ten-year major league career, Bengough played in 411 games, accumulating 287 hits in 1,125 at bats for a .255 career batting average, along with no home runs, 108 runs batted in and an on base percentage of .295.[1] He had a career fielding percentage of .988 which was 10 points above the league average during his playing career.[1] Bengough caught for five pitchers who would eventually be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.[16]

Coaching career

After retiring as a player, Bengough was named as a coach for the Newark Bears in December 1937.[17] Bengough became known for entertaining spectators with his humor from the coaching box.[18] He would often remove his cap to reveal his bald head and then run his fingers through his imaginary hair.[3] Bengough coached in the major leagues for the Washington Senators (1940–43), Boston Braves (1945), and Philadelphia Phillies (1946–58).[3] He reached another World Series as a coach when the 1950 Phillies team known as the Whiz Kids won the National League pennant. Bengough was relieved of his Phillies coaching duties on April 11, 1959, but continued to work for the organization in public relations.[19]

Later life

In 1959, Bengough was named as the head of the Junior Baseball Federation of Philadelphia which raised funds for under-privileged children.[20] He died of a heart attack in Philadelphia on December 22, 1968 at age 70.[20]

References

External links

Baseball portal
  • Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
  • The Dead Ball Era
  • Benny Bengough at Find a Grave.com
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