Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz

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1981 Fleer Bruce Benedict 248 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

I was such a big fan of catchers that I owned a catcher’s mitt years before I ever actually played catcher. I would tell anyone who would listen that the catcher was the most important player on the field because he was the only one looking in the other direction. (I’m sure I heard that line somewhere, but I couldn’t tell you where.) Back then, I tended to store my baseball cards in stacks of teams with rubber bands around each team. Typically, I had one stack with nothing but catchers and it was always near the top of the shoebox.

When my family moved to Georgia in the midst of the 1981 season, I immediately became an Atlanta Braves fan and my first favorite Braves player was, of course, Dale Murphy. My next favorite was Bruce Benedict. In 1981, Benedict was an All-Star, largely on the value of his defense, although he was also solid with the bat. He’d repeat as an All-Star in 1983 in the midst of his best all-around season, which saw him just miss hitting .300. His offense would fall sharply after 1984, and he spent the remainder of his big league career backing up Ozzie Virgil, Rick Cerone and Jody Davis. The Braves uniform was the only uniform that Benedict would ever wear.

I’m sure that most of us who became Braves fans because of the WTBS broadcasts have the same memory of Benedict. Whenever he would step to the plate at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, you would think that Mr. Springsteen was in the house. The chants of “BRUUUUUUUUUCE” would cascade down from every row of the stadium. At least once for every Braves home game, one of the Braves announcers would point out that the fans were not booing but were chanting his name. The Braves became a sensation on the back of the thirteen game winning streak that opened the 1982 season. Thanks to the Braves popularity, there are people all over America who remember Bruce Benedict.