Cincinnati Reds Legend Johnny Bench Apologizes for Antisemitic Joke at Team Event
Cincinnati Reds icon and Hall of Famer Johnny Bench has issued a public apology for an antisemitic joke he made during a recent team event. The incident occurred during a news conference held to celebrate the team’s Hall of Fame inductions.
Bench’s controversial comment came in response to a story shared by another Reds legend, Pete Rose. Rose was recounting his early days in baseball when former general manager Gabe Paul signed him for a meager $400 per month straight out of high school. As Rose finished his tale, someone from the audience yelled, “That’s cheap!”.
In a moment of poor judgment, Bench interjected with an insensitive remark, saying, “He was Jewish!” Some attendees laughed, while others, including Rose, were noticeably stunned by the inappropriate joke.
Recognizing the gravity of his comment, Bench wasted no time in issuing an apology the next day. He openly admitted that his joke was thoughtless and offensive, acknowledging that it had no place in the event or anywhere else. Bench expressed deep remorse for his actions and vowed to educate himself further about the harm caused by such remarks.
In an unexpected turn of events, Jennie Paul, Gabe Paul’s daughter, revealed that she had not heard the joke and was not offended when Bench asked her about it. She disclosed that she is actually not Jewish, despite her father being Jewish, and was raised as an Episcopalian. Furthermore, she speculated that her father’s Jewish heritage may have hindered his chances of becoming the Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner.
It is worth noting that Bench and Paul did not cross paths while both were associated with the Reds. Paul resigned as general manager in 1960, five years before Bench was drafted by the team in 1965. However, their careers took different trajectories beyond their time with the Reds. Paul went on to become a successful general manager for other teams, while Bench carved out an extraordinary career, earning 14 All-Star selections and ultimately securing a place in the Hall of Fame.
Bench’s apology serves as a reminder that cultural sensitivity and respect should always be at the forefront, even in the world of sports. The incident highlights the importance of education and understanding to prevent offensive remarks that perpetuate harmful stereotypes.
Organizer. Zombie aficionado. Wannabe reader. Passionate writer. Twitter lover. Music scholar. Web expert.