The Cincinnati Reds denounced an antisemitic comment made last week by Hall of Famer Johnny Bench during a team event, calling the remark "insensitive" and saying the team does not "condone this type of language for humor or any other intent."
The team addressed the incident Wednesday, four days after Bench made the comment while in attendance at a news conference to honor former Reds general manager Gabe Paul, who was Jewish, and former pitchers Danny Graves and Bronson Arroyo. The trio was being inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame.
"The Reds have spoken to Johnny who expressed sincere regret over what he said," the team said in its statement. "His comments do not reflect the values of the Reds organization."
The Reds went on to say they "denounce antisemitism" and are "committed to promoting positive change and inclusivity by bringing people together around the game of baseball and making sure our ballpark welcomes everyone."
Paul, who died in 1998, was represented at the event Saturday by his daughter, Jennie Paul. Near the end of the news conference, Pete Rose recalled his first contract negotiation with Gabe Paul, saying: "When I got out of high school in 1960, Gabe Paul signed me to a contract for 400 bucks a month."
Jennie Paul quipped, "That cheap, never mind."
Bench then responded, "He was Jewish," which prompted laughter from some in the audience.
Bench said in a statement Sunday that his comment was "insensitive" and that he apologized to Jennie Paul.
"I recognize my comment was insensitive," Bench said. "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."
Gabe Paul was the Reds' GM from 1951 to 1960 and was responsible for the franchise's acquisition of several great players, including Rose and Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Tony Perez. He also oversaw the Reds' integration of Black and Latin American players in the 1950s.