Home » Johnny Bench apologizes for ‘insensitive’ comment at Reds ceremony

Johnny Bench apologizes for ‘insensitive’ comment at Reds ceremony

by Mahmmod Shar

Bench made remark during Reds Hall of Fame ceremony

By Ryan Gaydos

Baseball legend Johnny Bench apologized for using an “insensitive” remark during the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday night, which came as the team honored the late Gabe Paul.

Jennie Paul, Gabe’s daughter, and Pete Rose were among those who spoke about the former team executive. Jennie noted how her father was Jewish and became a champion of minorities in pro baseball. Rose told a story about how Gabe signed him on a deal that paid him about $400 per month.

After Jennie chimed in with a comment about how her father was “cheap,” Bench was heard yelling, “He was Jewish!” The former Reds catcher’s joke didn’t go over well, and he was scrutinized for it.

He apologized in a statement through the Reds.

“I recognize my comment was insensitive,” Bench’s statement reads. “I apologized to Jennie for taking away from her father the full attention he deserves.

Johnny Bench in 2018
Hall of Fame catcher for the Cincinnati Reds Johnny Bench is seen before the game against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park on May 8, 2018, in Cincinnati. (Michael Hickey / Getty Images)

“Gabe Paul earned his place in the Reds Hall of Fame, same as the others who stood on that stage, I am sorry that some of the focus is on my inappropriate remark instead of solely on Gabe’s achievement.”

Jennie Paul told The Athletic she didn’t hear the comment.

“I didn’t even hear him say that,” she said. “Johnny came up to me and said, ‘Were you offended?’ I was like, ‘For what?’ I didn’t even hear him say that. I suppose if I had heard him say that I might have said something, but I didn’t even hear him say that.”

Johnny Bench in 1980
Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds waits on deck to bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium circa 1980 in Pittsburgh. (George Gojkovich / Getty Images)

Paul said she is not Jewish and was raised Episcopalian. She added that Gabe Paul’s parents were from modern-day Ukraine – which was part of Russia at the time.

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