Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench issued an apology after making an antisemitic comment in reference to late former Cincinnati Reds general manager Gabe Paul, who was Jewish, during his posthumous induction into the Reds Hall of Fame over the weekend.
"I recognize my comment was insensitive," Bench said via CBS Sports. "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."
Paul was being represented by his daughter, Jennie, during his induction alongside former Reds pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Danny Graves. Late in the press conference, Pete Rose said Paul, who died in 1988, had signed him for just $400 a month out of high school in 1960.
"That cheap, never mind," Jennie Paul added.
"He was Jewish," Bench yelled out in what appeared to be an attempt to make a joke.
Jennie Paul said she didn't initially hear Bench's comment and was later informed by media members in attendance, according to the Athletic's C. Trent Rosecrans.
"I didn't even hear him say that," Jennie Paul added. "Johnny came up and said, 'Were you offended?' and I said, 'For what?'
"I didn't even hear him say that. I suppose if I would've heard him say that, I would've said something, but I didn't even hear him say that."
Gabe Paul served as the Reds general manager from 1951 to 1960, which included signing several Reds legends including Bench, Rose, Tony Perez and Frank Robinson, many of whom were part of their 1975 and 1976 World Series teams. Bench is regarded by many as one of baseball's all-time greatest catchers, having made 14 All-Star appearances and winning two National League MVP awards and 10 Gold Glove Awards.