Bench denies quitting over Brennaman

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 28, 2000

The Associated Press

Friday, July 28, 2000

CINCINNATI – Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench has quit his daily radio program with Reds announcer Marty Brennaman, after the two had a dispute over whether Brennaman should have referred to Pete Rose during a Hall of Fame speech.

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Bench has quit WLW-AM’s daily morning ”Brennaman and Bench on Baseball” show, station operations manager Darryl Parks said Thursday. Parks said he had been told Bench had resigned from the show, but did not have any official communication explaining Bench’s reason for leaving.

Bench approached Brennaman last Saturday night to warn him against saying too much about former Reds star Rose the following day during Brennaman’s speech at his induction as a Hall of Fame announcer. Brennaman took exception to the advice and said during his speech that he thinks Rose belongs in the Hall.

Rose cannot be in the Hall because he agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball in 1989 following an investigation of his gambling.

Brennaman said he intends to sit down with Bench, now a special consultant to Reds general manager Jim Bowden, and work the problem out amicably.

”I intend for that to happen,” Brennaman said Wednesday. ”Bench has been a very close friend of mine. I’ve told my wife a number of times that if anything ever happened to me, he would be the first person to step forward, whether it be with financial assistance or whatever.”

Bench and Brennaman were together Wednesday to tape a week’s worth of the five-minute shows. The program airs Mondays through Fridays. Brennaman said he hopes Bench can be persuaded to return.

There are enough taped-in-advance shows to keep the program on air into next week, Parks said. If Bench does not return, guests can participate in the program with Brennaman, Parks said.

Joe Morgan, a former Rose teammate on Cincinnati’s ”Big Red Machine” championship teams of the 1970s, called WLW on Wednesday while Brennaman was at the station. Morgan offered to mediate the Bench-Brennaman dispute.

Morgan gave good advice, Brennaman said.

”He just told me that Johnny and I had been friends for too long to let something like this happen,” Brennaman said.

Bench said Thursday that his resignation involved a misunderstanding with the station.

”It has nothing to do with Marty,” said Bench. ”It’s just my own decision to make with the station and the way some of the things were handled.”

A message seeking additional comment from Bench was left at his office Thursday.