Louisville Slugger model B278 was used by Johnny Bench in 1980, 1981, or 1983 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. This particular model & length combination was only ordered those years. The bat shows tremendous use and is not cracked. Many ball marks and seam impressions are visibly concentrated on the left and back barrel surfaces. There is grain swelling with some separation on the left barrel and a few cleat marks are visible. Several red rack streaks are present. The handle has a light to moderate coat of pine tar and it is not cracked. The knob has Bench’s #5 written in blue pen. A PSA sticker (B28661) is on the knob. Bench has signed the barrel in blue sharpie.
There is a void in the pine tar/wear on the handle approximately 7″ in length suggesting a padded wrap had been present at one time. A photo from spring training of 1981 shows Bench using just such a pad so it is possible that bat is from 1981.