Former MLB catcher Gary Bennett chatted with MLBTR readers for more than two hours this morning. Click here to read the transcript and learn more about Bennett below:
Gary Bennett was drafted by the Phillies in the 11th round in 1990 out of Waukegan East High School. His MLB career began with a single plate appearance more than five years later, when he pinch-hit for the Phils against David Wells. His first big league home run came in 1999, at the age of 27.
In July of 2001, Bennett was traded to the Mets for Todd Pratt. A year later, he was dealt to the Rockies.
It was in 2002, at the age of 30, that Bennett landed regular work in the Majors, serving as Colorado’s primary catcher. He then signed a free agent deal with the Padres, leading their ’03 club in innings caught. After the ’03 season, Bennett signed as a free agent with the Brewers. He served as the backup to Chad Moeller that year.
On to the Nationals in ’05, Bennett’s life as a big league mercenary catcher continued, this time with Damian Miller as his counterpart.
Bennett moved to the Cardinals for the ’06 season, working behind Yadier Molina. The Cards beat the Tigers in five games in the World Series that year, and Bennett earned a ring. The Cardinals retained Bennett for ’07, providing some rare continuity, after which he closed out his career with the Dodgers.
In the end, Bennett spent over 4,200 innings in the Majors behind the dish, catching pitchers such as Jake Peavy, Ben Sheets, and Adam Wainwright. He also hit a homer off Sheets at one point, taking Dontrelle Willis and many others deep as well. Memorable moments included walk-offs on back-to-back days against the Cubs in ’06 – one a single and the other a grand slam.
In 2007, Bennett was one of the players named in the Mitchell Report. He owned up to his use of human growth hormone, later telling Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “It was unethical, cheating, taking performance enhancement stuff.”
After Gary’s playing days wrapped up, he became a partner in a training academy called Slammers Baseball. Other ventures have included medical device sales, real estate, and non-profit foundations such as CASA Lake County and Science of Sport. The Bennetts also have three kids, one of whom played baseball at Mizzou and another currently playing at Illinois. You can follow Gary on Twitter @gdbjr5.
Gary offered to chat with MLBTR readers, and we’re happy to have him! Click here to join the live chat.
If you’re a current or former MLB player and would like to do a one-hour chat on MLBTR, please contact us!
Nice pic! Which arena is that?
deGrom Texas Ranger
It looks like he is wearing a Cardinals cap at their home ballpark.
It’s United Center.
I thought it was Gary Sanchez first glance.
The Baseball Fan
I currently play baseball for the slammers organization and Gary is a great guy! Glad you could have him on
Awesome chat. Love these with former players.
Oh, and I was a catcher in little league too… I think that’s where they put the fat kids.
Dumpster Divin Theo
He was a nice coach too. Took the Purple to Pasadena
deGrom Texas Ranger
I always love guys bold enough to say Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame. I don’t care much about the HoF, but I do think I would start caring if Bonds, Schilling, Clemens, Rodriguez, etc were all in.
Mr Bennett. Nice chat Sir. Congrats on that and being a big leaguer for so long. And tbe ring!
And the non profit stuff!
I wish you and your family well. Thank you for sharing!
1. “Vast majority of players work after baseball.” Gary made “only” $5mm in 13 years in the big leagues, so it makes sense that he works. Nowadays, playing that long and not making $10mm is more rare. These guys are also very competitive and probably don’t want to just sit around.
2. His window has closed for coaching: What does that mean? After a while, your contacts are no longer in the majors. Maybe if you don’t do it right after playing, people wonder why.
3. In 2003, he came to SD for one year. The radio guys kept gushing about how much experience and leadership he brought to the team. I was only 19, but I really thought they were directed to say that.
5 Mil is actually closer to 1 mil. After taxes and paying the agent…
It is that big of a hit?
In terms of career length and salary, is Bennett closer to the top or to the bottom?
I am unsure if Bennett reached 10 full years in MLB and thus qualifies for the pension, which is something like $180k starting at age 62. He probably did. That is a significant amount of money, and if he was on the cusp of that, he surely would have tried a lot harder to get a job as a coach to reach the pension.
I remember he had a really couple of weeks for the cards back in 06. Couple of grand slams if I remember correctly.
I mixed up Gary Bennett with Jason LaRue. I only looked through this transcript to see what he thought about Johnny Cueto. 😀 lol
Bennett was Yadi’s backup catcher *before* LaRue.
In ’05, Bennett was Brian Schneider’s backup on the Nationals. Damian Miller never played for the Nationals.
“On to the Nationals in ’05, Bennett’s life as a big league mercenary catcher continued, this time with Damian Miller as his counterpart.”