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Thursday June 28, 2012Mike Zunino Becomes The University Of Florida's First Johnny Bench Award Recipient

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida junior Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.) continued to add to his impressive list of postseason recognition when he was named the recipient of the 2012 Johnny Bench Award presented by on Thursday. A finalist for the second year in a row, the Gator standout joined junior Mitchell Garver of New Mexico and junior Kevin Plawecki of Purdue at the 15th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet competing for the prize presented to the nation’s top catcher. Zunino becomes UF’s first recipient of the prestigious accolade and is the fourth winner from the Southeastern Conference.

Zunino, a consensus first-team All-American, the Dick Howser Trophy recipient and Baseball America’s 2012 College Player of the Year, is one of three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award that will be presented next Friday, July 6. He finished as the Gators’ “Triple Crown” winner, leading the team in batting average (.322), RBI (67) and homers (19), and paced the Orange and Blue in total bases (164), doubles (28), sacrifice flies (11) and slugging percentage (.669). He was also 9-for-10 on the basepaths. A two-time, first-team All-SEC recipient and two-time member of the league’s All-Defensive Team, Zunino registered a .994 fielding percentage, with three errors in 510 chances, and threw out 20 runners who attempted to steal on him.


Zunino was voted to the NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team for the third-consecutive season after belting homers in consecutive games against No. 24 Georgia Tech and he led the Gators with a .500 (4-for-8) clip in the pair of victories over NC State that punched Florida’s return ticket to Omaha for its third-straight appearance at the NCAA College World Series. The first-round pick of the Seattle Mariners at No. 3 overall was 8-for-25 (.320) during the NCAA Tourney with team highs in slugging percentage (.720), RBI (12) and homers (3).


Johnny 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 Award Winners


Brad Creese, LSU


Kelly Shoppach, Baylor


Jeremy Brown, Alabama


Ryan Garko, Stanford


Kurt Suzuki, Cal State Fullerton


Jeff Clement, Southern California


Jake Smith, East Carolina


Edward Easley, Mississippi State


Buster Posey, Florida State


J.T. Wise, Oklahoma


Bryan Holaday, TCU


Jake Lowery, James Madison


Mike Zunino, FLORIDA


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