Johnny Bench makes ‘insensitive’ antisemitic joke at Reds event

Johnny Bench made an Anti-semitic joke when the Reds honored former general manager Gabe Paul at the team's Hall of Fame induction news conference on Saturday.

During the ceremony, Reds legend Pete Rose told the story of how Paul had signed him for $400 per month out of high school.

Someone in the room exclaimed, "That's cheap!" to which Bench, 75, responded, "He was Jewish!"

The comment drew laughter from some in attendance.

The 14-time All-Star and former Reds catcher issued an apology on Sunday for his comments, and was specifically remorseful to Jennie Paul, who was in attendance representing her late father, who died in 1998.

"I recognize my comment was insensitive. I apologized to Jennie for taking away from her father the full attention he deserves," Bench said, according to Yahoo Sports.

"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 reportedly said she didn't hear Bench's comment, but did mention Paul's Judaism when speaking about her father on Saturday.

"It did follow him his whole baseball career because a lot of people didn't know he was Jewish," Jennie said, according to Bleacher Report. "They turned down the commissionership because he was Jewish. A lot of people don't know that either."

While Jennie's mother raised her as an Episcopalian, she said a majority of Paul's 12 children practiced Judaism and that her father had a strong faith.

Paul was the Reds' general manager from 1951-60 and was named the Sporting News' 1956 Executive of the Year. He also is given credit as the architect of the Reds' 1961 NL pennant-winning team.

Jennie said that Paul's religion had an impact on the way he did business and the opportunities he gave to specific players.

"[Gabe Paul] was a minority himself," Jennie said, according to The Athletic.

"He was a very big proponent for the underdog because he was an underdog himself. He went into the Latin leagues and the Negro leagues and he signed as many minority players as he could, which strengthened the Reds."

During his tenure, Paul signed Chuck Harmon and Nino Escalera, the Reds' first black players.

Former Reds pitchers Danny Graves and Bronson Arroyo were also inducted into the team Hall of Fame on Saturday.

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