Reds’ Bennett retiring after 58 years

Published 4:29 am Friday, January 28, 2011


Tribune Sports Editor

ASHLAND, Ky. — The Cincinnati Reds were the first professional baseball team dating back to 1869. Gene Bennett hasn’t been with them the entire time, it just seems that way.

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And after 58 years with the organization, Bennett has announced his plans to retire.

“We want to thank him for all he’s done,” said Reds’ general manager Walt Jockety during the annual caravan stop Thursday at Fannin’s Motors.

“He had a special gift. Gene has been an important part of the Reds’ family for almost 60 years. He leaves a legacy not only here but also in baseball’s scouting fraternity. He made countless contributions to the success of our proud franchise.”

Bennett is stepping down from his job at a time when he sees a solid foundation in the organization.

“That’s as sound of a front office as I’ve seen in 50 years,” Bennett said of the Reds’ organization.

Bennett began his career with the Reds as a player when he signed in 1952. He then took a job in scouting with the organization in 1958 and has been working in the field ever since.

He was promoted to scouting supervisor in 1975 and was named the special assistant to the general manager in 1992.

During his career, Bennett has had a long list of outstanding players to his credit including Reds’ Hall of Fame players such as pitcher Don Gullett from Wurtland, Ky., shortstop Barry Larkin, third baseman Chris Sabo, pitchers Charlie Leibrant and Jeff Russell and outfielder Paul O’Neil.

Bennett made the recommendation to sign Derek Jeter out of the University of Michigan. The Reds were going to make Jeter their first selection in 1992 but a last-minute change saw the team pick outfielder Chad Mottola, a move that befuddled Bennett.

Among Bennett’s awards are the Topps Scout of the Month Award on 12 different occasions and the Topps All-Star Scout Award in 1988.

Bennett was elected to the Middle Atlantic Major League Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame in 1996.

In January of 2009, he received the Legends In Scouting Award from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation and in December of that year he was named the Midwest Scout of the Year.

Bennett will be honored publicly by the team on Sunday, April 17, prior the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bennett lives in Wheelersburg with his wife, Loretta. They have a son, David, a former scout with the Reds, a daughter, Cathy, and four grandchildren.