Earlier this year, I was a little surprised when my dad told me that the play-by-play voice of the Cincinnati Reds and one of my favorite broadcasters, Marty Brennaman was retiring from the broadcast both after the 2019 season.
As a young baseball fan, I have always enjoyed how Marty makes me feel like the game is being played right in front of me, even though I am listening through a speaker.
Recently I got to sit down with the veteran broadcaster before a Reds game against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ballpark. I found out from the Hall of Famer his retirement decision wasn’t a hard one.
“When Joe Nuxhall retired,” Marty said, “he was physically unable to do a lot of things he wanted to do. That made a big impact on me, and I just decided I was going to retire while I still had my health about me. I could do things and go places with my wife that he was unable to do. I was bound and determined that wasn’t going to happen to me.”
Marty and Nuxhall shared the Reds’ radio broadcast booth for 31 seasons, from 1974 to 2004.
This is the second time I have sat down with Marty, and, each time, his excitement level talking to a teenage sports columnist amazed me. While I have had fun during my short career, that doesn’t compare to how Marty described to me the fun he has had telling baseball fans about his beloved Reds. “I have the best job in the world,” he said. “Nobody has a better job than what I’ve got. I cannot imagine looking back, when I made the decision, a million years ago to do what I am doing and thinking I should be doing something else. I am truly blessed to do what I do for a living.”
Before replacing Al Michaels as the voice of the Reds, Marty spent one season in the Virginia Tech Hokies football broadcast booth in 1973.
The 76-year-old native of Portsmouth, Virginia, has seen a lot of great ballplayers put on the Redlegs’ uniform during his play-by-play years, so I had him give me his all-time lineup card.
“At catcher, easy — Johnny Bench; first base for me, Tony Perez; second base, Joe Morgan; shortstop would be (Dave) Concepcion; (Pete) Rose would be at third; I’d say Billy Hamilton would be my center fielder, strictly because of defense, right field; you know I would put Ken Griffey Jr. there and left field would be George Foster. Then if I have to win the seventh game of the World Series, I’ve got to give the ball to Tom Seaver.”
If you are keeping score at home, Marty just reeled off the names of six Hall of Famers. Not a bad starting nine, that’s for sure.
With the second half of the Reds’ season now upon us, the end is approaching for Marty’s time in the Reds broadcast booth. I did find out during our pregame chat that if it had been up to Marty, his final game would’ve been sooner than this fall.
“I wanted to retire last year, I wanted to do the last game and they announced Monday morning after the season had ended that I had retired. I didn’t want a whole lot of hoopla and all that sort of thing. But the club officials thought it wasn’t fair to the fans or fair to the club to go out that way, having been around so long, so one more season it was and what happens from here out will happen.”
All I can say, that after 45 seasons, Marty, you have meant a lot to baseball fans of every team.