I have two cards of Bill Bene. This one is from 1989 Topps.
Playing career: Bill Bene had unimpressive numbers at UCLA, walking more batters than he struck out while pitching to a 5.62 ERA. However, the Dodgers loved his arm and thought they could teach him to pitch, drafting him number one (fifth overall pick) in the 1988 draft. The experiment did not work. He put up some pretty horrific numbers early on, most notably at Vero Beach in 1990 when he went 1-10 with a 6.99 ERA, walking 96 batters and striking out 34 in 56.2 innings. Eventually he was so wild that the Dodgers just had him pitch to teammates in batting practice; after he broke one player’s wrist with an errant fastball, they just had him pitch to a dummy, which Bene drew a mustache on and called “Harold”. To Bene’s credit, he didn’t give up, and while he never pitched in the major leagues, he put up some fairly respectable numbers. From 1991-1997 in the Dodgers, Reds and Angels organizations he went 9-16 and a 4.97 ERA. Never great, he nonetheless was able to pull himself up from “terrible” to “mediocre”. You can read more about his career at Cardboard Gods and Smed’s Baseball Card Blog.
Where he is now: In 2012 he was sentenced to six months in jail and to pay over $100,000 for operating a counterfeit karaoke business and not paying federal taxes. He is now out of jail and working in telecommunications sales in Los Angeles.
My memories: I remember him being a first round draft choice card, looking at his numbers and finding it hard to believe that he could be a major leaguer.
Google Autocomplete results: He is third when you type Bill Bene, between Bill Benedict Alpine Meridian, referring to the CEO of a venture capital firm, and Bill Benenson, a filmmaker. There do not appear to be any other prominent Bill Benes.
Coming up next: The next profile will be Bruce Benedict.