The Reds are hailing their Chief.
The club hosted a private luncheon Friday afternoon for Sheldon "Chief" Bender, who is retiring after 64 years in baseball.
Chief spent the last 39 years with the Reds' organization in their scouting and player development departments. He was the team's farm director for 23 seasons, from 1967-89. Among the players he helped develop were Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey Sr., Don Gullett, Mario Soto, Ron Oester, Tom Browning, Paul O'Neill, Chris Sabo, Eric Davis and Barry Larkin.
Bender's contributions to the organization were so large that in 2001, the Reds named their Minor League Player of the Year Award after him.
In December 1988, Bender was named the "King of Baseball" by the National Association for his longtime service and dedication to the game.
Bender played and managed in the Minor Leagues for 12 seasons and was in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization from 1948-66. A veteran of World War II, Bender earned a Purple Heart for his service.
As a special sendoff to the Chief, the Reds have announced that a duplicate of the commemorative bat given to Bender by Louisville Slugger will be put on display in the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum's front office exhibit.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.