Junior C Cameron McConnell.

Cameron McConnell Named To Bench Award Watch List

March 1, 2010

WICHITA, Kan. – Notre Dame junior Cameron McConnell was one of 53 catchers to be named to the watch list on Monday for the 2010 Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award by The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. The award is given annually to the top division one collegiate catcher.

McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) has played in five games this season with four starts behind the plate. The junior is batting .400 (6-for-15) with three runs scored and two RBI. McConnell has yet to commit an error or pass ball this season and has already gunned down two would be base stealers.

McConnell saw action in 54 games in 2009 and started 50. He hit .289 (54-for-187) with three home runs and 37 RBI. McConnell added seven doubles, two triples, 23 runs scored, six walks, four sacrifice flies and six sacrifice bunts. He committed just three errors and four pass balls over the entire season. McConnell also threw out 26 attempted base stealers, which led the BIG EAST, ranked fifth-best in the entire country and was the most by an Irish catcher since 1996.

The watch list will be narrowed down to ten semifinalists, whom will be announced May 19, 2010. Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 2, 2010 prior to the NCAA Regionals and Major League Baseball Draft. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 13th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on July 1, 2010.

“We are extremely appreciative to the Coleman Company, Papa John’s Pizza and Mr. Johnny Bench for supporting this prestigious award,” stated Bob Hanson, President/CEO of the Sports Commission. “They are the ones who make all of this possible.”

While Bench is remembered for his offense, he may have had the greatest impact behind the plate. He was the first receiver to use a protective helmet in the field, popularized catching one-handed and kept his throwing hand behind his back to protect it from foul tips.

Bench’s career honors include: National League Rookie of the Year (1968); National League Most Valuable Player (1970, 1972); World Series Most Valuable Player (1976); 14-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner. In 1980, he set an endurance record by catching 100+ games for 13 consecutive seasons. Bench was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January 1989 with the fourth highest percentage of total votes cast.

Johnny Bench presented University of Oklahoma catcher, J.T. Wise, with the award last June in Wichita, Kansas. Chris Henderson of George Mason University and Tony Sanchez of Boston College were the other finalists for the award. Eleven former finalists are currently playing in Major League Baseball.

Previous winners include the following:

2009 J.T. Wise University of Oklahoma
2008 Buster Posey Florida State University
2007 Edward Easley Mississippi State University
2006 Jake Smith East Carolina University
2005 Jeff Clement University of Southern California
2004 Kurt Suzuki California State University – Fullerton
2003 Ryan Garko Stanford University
2002 Jeremy Brown University of Alabama
2001 Kelly Shoppach Baylor University
2000 Brad Cresse Louisiana State University

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