Johnny Bench’s friend buys $1M worth of memorabilia, gives it back to Reds legend, report says

Johnny Bench’s friend buys $1M worth of memorabilia, gives it back to Reds legend, report says

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A large collection of Johnny Bench’s awards, World Series rings and more have finally been auctioned off. However, the most important items will soon be back with the Reds legend, Darren Rovell at the Action Network reports.

For decades, Bench and prominent Philadelphia businessman Alan Horwitz have had a close friendship. It started back in 1967 and the two remained close in the years since, Rovell writes.

Anytime the Reds were in Philly, Rovell says the two would meet up for lunch or dinner with Bench leaving Horwitz with tickets to the game.

Bench’s and Horwitz’s friendship was described as “special,” by Rovell. That was never more evident than what Horwitz did for his good friend last month.

In November, the Hall of Fame catcher decided to auction off much of his baseball memorabilia. The 73-year-old Bench decided this would be an easier route rather than having his family fight over it when he passed away, according to Rovell. The money raised from the auction would also help pay the college tuition for the boys Bench has become a father to, 14-year-old Justin and Josh, 11.

So, Bench met with the owner of Hunt Auctions, David Hunt, to go over details about the auction, Rovell writes.

Once the auction began, Rovell says the prices were a little high.

Bench’s last home run bat went for $80,000, which was more than double the estimate, according to Rovell. His last Reds jersey went for almost five times the estimated value, selling for $90,000, Rovell reports.

The 1975 and 1976 World Series rings sold for $115,000 and $125,000, according to Rovell.

Unbeknownst to Bench, his decades-long friend Horwitz was making moves behind the scene all along. Horwitz set up with Hunt Auctions to make sure he won the items and could return them to Bench, according to Rovell.

During that dinner between Bench and Hunt before the auction started, the Reds legend was asked which items he would want to keep forever, Rovell writes. Those items named off by Bench were the Horwitz would end up bidding on.

“There was no way I was going to let Johnny sell these to collectors,” Horwitz said. “Seeing how hard he worked to be recognized the way he was after all these years. Only he deserves them.”

When Bench found out, he cried, Rovell said.

“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” Bench said. “When I was 18 years old, in the Canadian League, I had a fear of failure that fueled me. I wanted the people back home, who counted on me, to be proud when they would read the newspaper and find out what Johnny Bench did.”

Bench told Rovell he knows what he is going to do with the items when he gets them back from Horwitz. The items will be donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Reds Hall of Fame, and the Hall of Fame in Oklahoma.

$2.2 million is how much money Bench said he made in his career, Rovell writes.

The auction raised $2 million, according to Rovell, with Horwitz buying more than $1 million of the items.

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