National Baseball Hall of Famer and former Cincinnati Reds great Johnny Bench spoke Friday with Mason High School and University of Dayton graduate Dan Patrick on Dan Patrick Show about the legacy Major League Baseball legend Hank Aaron left behind when he passed away at the age of 86.
"When I broke in and I'm catching, Henry would come up ... and he would say, 'Hi John, how ya doin'?" Bench told Patrick. "And nobody ever knew that. And from the very beginning, I don't think there was a game that when he led off or his first time at bat, that he didn't say hello. I mean it was such a reward just to be with the man and to be at the Hall of Fame with him. And his gentleness, his class. ... And you know, 755 home runs - if you take those away, he still had 3,000 hits. He was a great base-stealer. He was a great defender. And he was just a better man and a better person. I am just so sad. And we can't do enough to say for him and what he did for baseball and what he meant to baseball - what he meant to everybody he played with. I can tell you - to a man - all those players would - just with adulation and respect. And I don't think you can leave a better legacy than for us to talk about him in this kind of manner and say what a just a gentle person and what a wonderful person and the all-time home run king to most people."
Patrick asked Bench if he thinks Hall of Famers still view Aaron as the home run king.
"Yeah," Bench replied. "And I think it's just out of respect and everything else. I think everybody's always looking at the PEDs and the steroid era and how much difference it would have made. ... Hank was one of a kind as a baseball player and one of a kind as a person. And my whole being is saddened."
From Bench via Twitter:
Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda, Rod Carew and John Schuerholz were among those who offered praise of Aaron during visits in recent years to the former Green Diamond Gallery in the Cincinnati suburb of Montgomery.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto shared a heartfelt tribute to Aaron on Canada's CTV National News on Friday night.
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