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All About the Johnny Bench Batter Up
Johnny Bench is one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game. Back in the 70s, he was also one of the most famous baseball players of the time.
He was a perennial all star and played for the Big Red Machine, a team that seemed to always be making a run for the World Series.
Any product that featured Johnny Bench at that time was sure to be a top seller.
This article takes a deep dive into the Johnny Bench Batter Up and answers many common questions about it.
What Is It?
The Johnny Bench Batter Up is a training aid made to help players improve their hitting.
It's mostly geared towards younger players, though hitters of any age can use it.
As the name suggests, it was endorsed by the great Johnny Bench.
When Was It Made?
It was first made on or around 1978.
People could buy it from sporting goods stores as well as in some toy stores.
Who Made It?
A company named Fonas Corporation made the Johnny Bench Batter Up. They were based out of Latrobe, PA, which isn't far from Pittsburgh (and just a few hours drive from Cincinnati, home of Bench's Reds).
Fonas manufactured a variety of sports training gear in the 70's and 80's including products like the Spiral Passer, the Zimm Zamm Swingball and the Pass Play.
Fonas Corporation appears to no longer be in business.
How Did It Work?
The Johnny Bench Batter Up came in a variety of pieces out of the box. So it did require some assembly.
Once put together, it was essentially a baseball at the end of an elastic line which was tethered to a lightweight, vertical pole.
The pole was fixed to a circular base filled with cement.
When you hit the ball, it would wind itself around the pole and, when the batter is ready, they could swing again.
This means that you could stand there and swing all day at the ball as it made its trip around the pole and back again.
Check out the below video (an original ad for the product) to see how it works.
What Did People Think About It?
Many kids that grew up in the late 70's and early 80's loved the Johnny Bench Batter Up. Even now it can cause some nostalgia just thinking about it.
For young baseball players that grew up in this era, it was a must have.
Kids would be in their backyard practicing with it for hours.
Many swear that it worked wonders to improve their swing and batting average.
It helped batters to keep their focus on the ball, to improve timing and reflexes, and to get countless reps in for their swing
You could even bring it in the garage to hit if it was raining or snowing outside.
What we find especially interesting is that today - more than 40 years after it was released - there are still hitting tools being created that follow the same basic design as the Johnny Bench Batter Up.
For example, take a look at the Hit-A-Way Portable Training Station, which has thousands of reviews on Amazon. This modern tool does basically the same thing as the Batter Up.
Even the snazzy Hurricane Category 4 Swing Trainer by SKLZ has a similar motion as the Batter Up.
It just goes to show that a product with a good design is timeless.
Where Can I Get It?
The Johnny Bench Batter Up is no longer manufactured.
However, used (or more rarely, new) products can be found on eBay.
If you're looking to pick one up, we encourage you to start your search at eBay.
You can also try your hand at antique sporting goods dealers or even at garage or estate sales.
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