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Johnny Bench apologizes for ‘insensitive’ Jewish penny-pinching remark 

The baseball legend cracked what he considered a joke at a Cincinnati Reds ceremony over the weekend.

Former Major League Baseball player Johnny Bench signs autographs in Houston in May 2014. Credit: Eric Enfermero via Wikimedia Commons.
Former Major League Baseball player Johnny Bench signs autographs in Houston in May 2014. Credit: Eric Enfermero via Wikimedia Commons.

Johnny Bench, 75, who is widely considered the best catcher in professional baseball history, had his blooper over the weekend.

The Hall of Famer, who played 17 seasons for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983, attended a Saturday event honoring the induction into the Hall of Fame of the team’s former general manager Gabe Paul (who died in 1998), as well as former pitchers Danny Graves and Bronson Arroyo, ESPN reported.

Paul’s daughter, Jennie Paul, and Pete Rose, a former Reds (and Philadelphia Phillies) player who has been banned from the Hall of Fame, attended the event.

Rose said that Gabe Paul signed him to a $400 weekly contract in 1960 when Rose graduated high school. “That cheap, never mind,” Jennie Paul said.

That’s when Bench chimed in. “He was Jewish,” Bench said, drawing laughter from some in the audience, according to ESPN.

Bench has since issued an apology. “I recognize my comment was insensitive,” he stated on July 16. “I apologized to Jennie for taking away from her father the full attention he deserves. 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.”

The now Hall of Famer’s daughter has said that she didn’t hear the original remark and that if she had, she would have said something.

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