One Last Summer with
Marty Brennaman

  Marty Brennaman

Cincinnati Reds Announcer, 46 Years

With Spring Training right around the corner, I thought you might enjoy the following article regarding Marty Brennaman, ASA member and Hall of Fame broadcaster, who recently announced that 2019 will be his 46th and final year as the radio voice of the Cincinnati Reds. The article, written by Paul Dougherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer, was sent to us by ASA member and Fox Sports Radio host Andy Furman.

                                         ~ Lou Schwartz, ASA President

February 5, 2019 - Marty Brennaman announced his retirement effective at the end of this baseball season. Forty-six years of “this one belongs to the Reds’’ will be in the books. So, "If you’re ready now. . ."

Some of us will never be ready. In Cincinnati, the Reds are family and Marty sits at the head of the table. The game’s constancy is its strength. Its ability to envelop generations, its endurance, its timelessness has never been surpassed in American sports, and likely never will be.

Around here, we listened.

Marty and Al, Marty and Jeff. Marty and Jim and Steve. Marty and Thom. Marty and Joe, amen.

Marty is a gift of summer and cool breezes on hot nights and porches and decks and the radio in the car. Marty is top-down nights along the river road or across the pastures of Adams County and the rolling green land and white fences out by Union, Kentucky.

Baseball is a game and a state of mind. And here, it is a voice. Marty’s voice, a stitch in our fabric as vital as Music Hall or Graeter’s. For 46 years, a central part of the local conversation.

We have a summer left. One, before the sun goes down. So starting in March, put the game on the radio. Turn it up, take it in. Embrace the voice. It sounds like us.

I talked awhile with Marty on Tuesday. We covered a lot of stuff, too much to jam into one column.

Below is Marty, mostly verbatim, though some has been paraphrased for clarity and continuity.

Let the Titanic wrap-up begin:

I have things I want to do and places I want to go. When you’re my age (76) you can drop dead of a heart attack in the next five minutes. My health is good. I walk five miles a day, outside or on the treadmill. I take no medication, I eat no junk food.

Amanda and I went to Europe in October. I’d never been to the Continent. I would never have dreamed how much fun it would be.

I want to go back to Europe. I’d go back to Italy today. Austria. Switzerland, Germany. To Iceland, for the Northern Lights.

I want to go to the Kentucky Derby, the Masters, the Indy 500.

Forty-six years is enough. I’ve realized dreams I didn’t know I had. I’m in the broadcasters wing of the Hall of Fame. In 1974 when I started, there was no broadcasters wing.

I had chances to go to Pittsburgh, the Cubs, the Yankees, the Giants, the White Sox, the Red Sox. Subconsciously, I never wanted to leave Cincinnati. I always said no.

I have a Red Sox contract hanging on my wall. Five years, starting in 1981. Drawn up on legal-sized paper.

Nobody is more anguished about retirement than I am. I’m up at 4 some nights, staring into the darkness. It’s the unknown. Nobody can give you a formula for success. Maybe three months later, I’m going to wake up and say I made a terrible mistake.

In the last couple years, I’ve asked all kinds of retirees what they missed about their jobs. They’ve said, the people. I’ve liked everyone I’ve worked with.

I love Jeff Brantley like a brother.

I can’t speak about Joe (Nuxhall) without fighting my composure. Joe was larger than life. He was John Wayne. His ability to cry was part of what made him a real man.

Broadcasting baseball is an art form. I’ve done every sport but ice hockey. If you can’t coherently ad-lib, you can’t do baseball.

I don’t beat my own drum. But if someone asks me if I’m a good baseball announcer, I will say, “Hell, yeah. Damned right I am.’’

I’m not as good as Vin Scully was.

I have bad nights.

Favorite call? I don’t have just one. I liked both calls on Ken Griffey Jr.’s 500th and 600th home runs. Especially 500. Jay Bruce’s homer in the bottom of the 9th that sent the Reds into the playoffs in 2010.

I never planned what I was going to say when I knew an event was inevitable. Too contrived.

Scully is the guy. He has no ego. Every day of his life he’s been told, you’re the greatest baseball announcer of all time. It hasn’t affected him one iota.

I hope people say this about me. I mess with people, but I’m harmless.

Dick Enberg was the best play-by-play guy who ever lived.

I’m a big fan of our occupation. I have a collection of highlight record albums. I still listen to games on XM, while I’m driving home.

I wanted to retire by saying after my last broadcast, this is it for me, then walk away. The Reds felt that would be a disservice to the fans and the ballclub. So I agreed to do it this way. I will be very grateful. And very uncomfortable.

Once I leave the booth, I’ll never broadcast another baseball game in this town. It’s not fair to the other guys in the booth. I will be involved in other areas.

I wonder if I could have been a better father to Thom and Dawn, my two oldest kids. When they were growing up, my career was the most important thing in the world to me.

In retrospect, I would change some things. How, I don’t know. But I’d sure as hell try.

I realized later on, after Thom and Dawn had left for college, that I could be better for Ashley, my youngest.

I’m a dinosaur, one of the last guys on the bridge that goes from Jack Buck and Vin Scully and Ernie Harwell. The young breed is incredibly different. Most guys are TV-oriented. They don’t hone their craft in the minor leagues.

There’s a greater emphasis today on being a fan of the team you work for. That’s another reason it’s a good time for me to get out. If I’d been told I had to do things differently, I’d have to quit.

There is a line you do not cross. What’s the definition of that line? I don’t know. I just know intuitively where I can go and where I can’t.

I couldn’t work for better people than the Castellinis. I’m not sucking up when I say that. If they have to grin and bear what I say, they don’t make a big issue about it.

Tommy Thrall will be in the booth with us this year. Sixty or 70 games and the postgame show. I think he has a real chance to be the guy.

When I came here, I signed a three-year deal, but the club had an option in the second year. If they didn’t want me back after that first year, I wouldn’t be here.

I’m one of six guys that broadcast big-league baseball for 40-plus years, for one team. Scully, Buck, Bob Uecker, Denny Matthews in Kansas City, Jaime Jarrin, the Latin American broadcaster for the Dodgers. And me. I’m proud of that.

Amanda has impacted my life like nothing else ever. We even have the same birth date. She will not allow me to sit around and do nothing, which I think helps keep me active and young.

Somebody asked me on Ask Marty three years ago, is there anything you fear? I said yeah, dying alone in a hotel room by myself. It happened to Don Drysdale, it happened to Richie Ashburn. Amanda loves to travel and she travels with me most of the time. I don’t know another couple that spends more time together than she and I.

People will say she’s the reason I’m retiring. That could not be further from the truth. As recently as last night, she asked me if I was sure about retiring. If I wanted to work for the next five years, she’d be fine with that. It was totally my decision, no pressure from anyone else.

If I’m home, I will listen to the Reds on the radio after I retire. I won’t feel compelled to do that, though. Jimmy Stewart once asked me, when you retire will you ever go to another big-league game? I said of course, what a stupid question. About 15 minutes later I said let’s revisit that question. I might not.

It has nothing to do with being sick of the game. I love the game. But I can see where people turn the page and move on. How many I see after I retire, I don’t know. We’ll see. It won’t stop me from doing other things I want to do.

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