Mike Bennett (1956 – )

Sport: Baseball, Hockey
Year of Induction: 2017

About

M ike was born in Chatham in 1956 and while still in high school at Chatham Collegiate (1973-74 and 1974-75), he served as a paid sports correspondent for the London Free Press. His job was to cover Chatham high school sports and the Chatham Junior Maroons hockey team. His fine work for the Free Press was recognized when he was hired right out of high school in 1975 by the Chatham Daily News where he worked until May of 2007, a period of 31.5 years.

Career Highlights

2008 – 2015

  • Mike was employed by the South Buxton raceway to report to several newspapers on stock car racing. Since 2011 he has been employed by the Blenheim News Tribune where he continues to report on sports and other events. Overall, going back to his job at the London Free Press, Mike has been reporting on sports in the community for 44 years.

1975 – 1980

  • Mike served as a sports reporter at the News. In 1980 he was named sports editor, a position he held until he left the News in 2007 after his position was eliminated. In Mike’s words, for almost 20 years, he just “continued the fine work that the previous sports editor, Bill Saunders, had started.”

Mike’s Columns

In Mike’s early years his columns simply read “by Mike Bennett” accompanied by a picture of him. It later became “Sports Spinnerama by Mike Bennett” and finally “Ben’s Den”.

In his column, Mike liked to recognize those who contributed to sports in a ‘behind the scene’ capacity. He felt that it was important to build relationships and when he received ‘off the record’ comments he kept them quiet. Mike was happy to put in a picture or write a column because he knew how proud it would make the family and friends. When local sports figures passed away he very often wrote an article outlining that person’s contribution to the community and quite often these were the ‘behind the scene’ type people.

Awards & Recognitions

  • 1991 – with Andy Johnston, won the Ontario Hockey Association Media Award
  • 1999 – was inducted into the Chatham Collegiate Athletic Alumni Sports Hall of Fame
  • 2002 – received the Chatham Minor Baseball “Fergie Jenkins Award” for contributions to the community
  • 2007 – at the John McGregor Secondary School athletic banquet, received the Robinson-Bruette Contribution Award for his contribution to local high school sports – also Chatham-Kent Secondary School honoured him for his service to high school sports
  • December of 2010 – Mike and Bill Saunders were inducted into the Maroon Alumni Association Heart and Soul Volunteer Wall of Fame at the Memorial Arena

Committees Served

  • Late 1970s – served on the executive of Chatham Minor Baseball
  • 1994 – 1996 – was an original member of the selection committee for the Public General Hospital Recognition Awards – these awards are now the Jack Parry Awards which are given annually to a graduating Kent County male and female student for academic and athletic achievements as well as contribution to the community

As a coach

  • For approximately 15 years Mike coached Chatham minor baseball teams including his most successful team, the 1979 midget team that went to the Canadian championships becoming only the second Chatham team to qualify for the national tournament – team was inducted into the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame in 2011
  • For approximately 12 years Mike served as a goalie coach in Chatham Minor Hockey and worked at goalie schools in the Detroit area as well as Southwestern Ontario
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