Baseball legend Johnny Bench has apologized for using an «insensitive» comment during the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame ceremony Saturday night, which came as the team honored the late Gabe Paul.
Jennie Paul, the daughter of Gabe and Pete Rose, were among those who spoke about the former team executive. Jennie noted that her father was Jewish and became a champion of minorities in professional baseball. Rose told a story about how Gabe signed him to a deal that paid him around $400 per month.
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After Jennie chimed in with a comment about how her father was «stingy,» Bench was heard yelling, «He was Jewish!» The former Reds catcher’s joke was not well received and he was scrutinized for it.
He apologized in a statement through the Reds.
«I acknowledge that my comment was insensitive,» Bench’s statement reads. «I apologized to Jennie for taking away from her father all the attention she deserves from her.
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«Gabe Paul earned his place in the Reds Hall of Fame, just like everyone else who stood on that stage. I’m sorry some of the attention is focused on my inappropriate comment rather than solely on Gabe’s achievement «.
Jennie Paul told The Athletic that she did not hear the comment.
«I never even heard him say that,» he said. «Johnny came up to me and said, ‘Were you offended?’ I was like, ‘What for?’ I didn’t even hear him say that. I guess if I had heard him say that, I might have said something, but I didn’t even hear him say that.»
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Paul said that she is not Jewish and that she was raised Episcopalian. She added that Gabe Paul’s parents were from present-day Ukraine, which was part of Russia at the time.