Sunday, June 23, 2002

Five questions with Bench and Collinsworth

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hosts Johnny Bench and Cris Collinsworth will play in the Fifth Third Bank/Fox 19 Celebrity Classic along with other celebrities.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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        Former Reds' Hall-of-Fame catcher Johnny Bench and former Bengals receiver and Fox announcer Cris Collinsworth are preparing to host their third celebrity golf tournament, July 19-21, to benefit the Cincinnati Childrens' Hospital Medical Center.

        They took time this week to answer five questions from the Enquirer's Dustin Dow.

        Q. What do you make of this Bobblehead madness?

        Johnny Bench. It's a collectible. My doll was actually on Ebay for two weeks before they were even available. The first price was like $100 or something. People collect anything.

        Cris Collinsworth. I'm actually bobble-less. But those Starting Lineup figures is where this all started when they started making figures of pro athletes years ago. Now it's phenomenal.

        Q. Cris, after the success you have had in the booth, do you view yourself as more of an analyst than a former football player?

        CC. I know how other people view me. I hosted a Guinness World Record show one time and it had all the weird Guinness record stuff on it. And I used to jog past my Fort Thomas neighborhood, and my kids' friends would be out playing and they would say, “Hey, there goes the Guinness guy.” So personally, I don't think people look at me as a pro football player.

        Q. Johnny, where is the future of baseball headed?

        JB. It depends on the labor contract. If there is a strike, it will absolutely come down 50 percent. People don't want to put up with the “we don't have enough” argument anymore. It's really sad because the Reds finally have this new stadium and they might strike. It's like “build and they won't come.”

        Q. Is there anything to this steroid debate?

        JB. Quite honestly, there are a lot of supplements out there. And I don't think there's any question that in every sport, there's athletes injecting. You still see doping in the Olympics.

        CC. I hope they forever ban that stuff. You have guys now who don't even want to use it now have to just to get an edge. It's a whole cycle from high school to college to the pros. That cycle has to be ended.

        JB. Now there's as many high school athletes taking supplements as there are pros. It helps the coaches to and ends. There is better training equipment though.

        CC. Put Johnny and steroids and see what would happen.

        JB. I still believe the year I hit 45 (home runs), that I could have hit 60. But you know we didn't even lift weights. All we did was wear a rubber jacket in spring training. And we had to run with it to get guys back in shape, lose 15-20 pounds.

        Q. Could you share your thoughts on Jack Buck, the legendary Cardinals' play-by-play man who passed away earlier this week?

        JB. He was the ultimate professional. I was in the booth with him in the 1989 World Series when they had the earthquake. And when it started shaking, I ran out of the booth to a spot underneath a steel grate. And Jack says, “If you would have moved that fast when you played, you wouldn't have hit into so many double plays.”

        CC. Joe Buck (Jack's son) and I are good friends. I think a lot of announcers think they're bigger than the game, and that bothers me. Jack was bigger than the game though, and he didn't even try to be. He was just a complementary part of baseball, intertwined into what we knew of the game. I'm really happy to get to work with Joe, who at 32-33 years of age is the No. 1 guy doing the World Series and Super Bowl for Fox. It speaks volumes to what Jack knew of that profession that he was able to pass it on to his son.


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