DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Cincinnati Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman has been with the team since 1974, including three World Series championship seasons.
Thousands of Ohioans grew up with Marty and Joe Nuxhall calling games until Nuxhall’s death in 2007. Brennaman would resume calling games with his son Thom, who was a star announcer for FOX’s NFL and college football coverage at the time, as well as former Reds relief pitcher Jeff Brantley.
Whether he was blasting Reds players for their play, the eyesight of certain umpires, or Cardinal and Cubs fans, Brennaman was a Hall-of-Famer and an exciting listen – always honest, and never boring. Baseball will be less fun when he calls his final game on Thursday, Sept. 26 and retires.
Marty and Joe get in trouble with the MLB Commissioner:
Early in the 1988 season, the Reds played the New York Mets at home. Their games had a penchant for brawling and high emotion.
Pete Rose, who was the team’s player-manager at the time, argued a call with umpire Dave Pallone during a decisive ninth-inning play. Rose was poked in the face by Pallone. Rose followed by shoving Pallone and was ejected. He was later suspended 30 days.
Fans began throwing everything not attached to the stadium onto the field as Brennaman and Nuxhall went off. According to the New York Times, Brennaman called Pallone an “incompetent” and “horrible” umpire while Nuxhall called him a “scab” for crossing the picket line during the umpire’s strike in 1979. Nuxhall also inferred Pallone was either a liar or incompetent.
The two announcers were immediately called to the MLB offices in New York. Bart Giamatti was head of the National League at the time and said Brennaman and Nuxhall incited the crowd.
“Our audience isn’t at the stadium,” Brennaman said. “We don’t dictate how people in the stadium act. That’s ridiculous.”
In a 90 minute meeting with Giamatti and baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, they threatened to ban both from broadcasting unless they apologized for their actions.
Marty’s war with the Cubs:
Brennaman’s ire with the Chicago Cubs began with Ryne Sandberg. Sandberg was in contention to break the record for errorless games held by Reds great Joe Morgan.
Brennaman felt Chicago’s friendly hometown scorekeeping called many plays to Sandberg hits when they should have been errors.
Brennaman didn’t care much for the Cubs players or fans either. In the 2000s when fans were throwing random balls on the field, Brennaman called them the most obnoxious in baseball and said even though they were favored to win the division that year they wouldn’t “because at the end of the day they are still the Cubs.”
Adam Dunn prank calls Marty Brennaman on the air:
During rain delays, the Reds would often go to the ‘Banana Phone,’ where announcers would take calls from fans as they waited for the weather to clear.
To say the questions were cringe-worthy is an understatement. But Reds great Adam Dunn had fun during one rain delay, calling into the booth from the clubhouse as “Adam from Milwaukee” and doing his schtick of Banana Phone callers, who suffered from hearing problems and ridiculous questions.
Marty seemed to catch on early into the call and sounded amused while Dunn gave his opinion who should play first base.
Cardinals ‘Happy Birthday’ message to Marty on the scoreboard:
When the Reds began improving in the late 2000s, they butted against division leader St. Louis. Brennaman often took shots at the Cardinals for what he called unfair practices during rain delays among other things.
Brennaman’s opinion of the Cardinals dived further after a brawl in 2010 during the heat of the playoff race.
The Cardinals got back by having fun at Brennaman’s expense in 2015. The team put a message on their scoreboard: “Happy 107th Birthday to Marty Brennaman.” The Reds Public Relations Twitter responded with a tweet: “He doesn’t look a day over 100.”
Marty Brennaman calls Hank Aaron’s home run tying Babe Ruth’s record:
Marty Brennaman replaced Al Michaels as a Reds announcer beginning with the 1974 season. Michaels would go to fame calling some of the biggest moments in sports history, including the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey upset over Russia.
Brennaman showed immediately he could eloquently call history as well. During the first inning of his first game during the 1974 season-opener against the Atlanta Braves, Brennaman called Hank Aaron’s 714th career home run that tied Babe Ruth’s record.
Brennaman was announcing for the Reds, not the Braves, but Brenneman’s call was so brilliant it’s often replayed as the definitive call for one of the great moments in baseball history.
Marty brings Randy “Macho Man” Savage into the Reds booth to the ire of Marge Schott:
Savage, who played in the Reds minor league system in the 1970s, was also born in Columbus. During the peak of his pro wrestling career in 1989, he visited Riverfront Stadium and was invited into the Reds broadcast booth to chat with Brennaman.
This happened late into the 1989 season, right after Pete Rose was suspended for life and the team was ending a disappointing season. Reds star Eric Davis had fun by flexing muscles and saluting Savage from the field. This outraged owner Marge Schott, who had Savage kicked out of the radio booth.
The story on the incident by Hall-of-Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy has become legendary among diehard baseball fans.
Marty Brennaman vs. Joey Votto:
To say Marty Brennaman was adored by Reds fans for most of his career is an understatement. He was an institution, much like the Big Red Machine or his partner and friend Joe Nuxhall.
But his popularity began to wane when he took issue with Joey Votto, the team’s star first basemen.
Votto’s approach to the plate was to get on base, whether it was with a hit or a walk. This didn’t sit well with Brennaman, who said Votto – as one of the few offensive weapons in the Reds lineup – should be doing more to get the bat on the ball.
Unfortunately, this began to bubble up among fans who said Votto was overpaid by the team and should be cut or traded, even though his numbers ranked among the best in the league, and in some cases, the best ever.
Many blamed the losing records from 2015 forward on Votto’s expensive paycheck, though when compared to similar star players, was affordable.
Brennaman closed the loop on the feud last season when he said Votto would go down in Reds history as the best hitter to ever play for the team.
Marty and Joe call Pete Rose’s 4,192:
One of the greatest accomplishments in the history of sports, Pete Rose breaks the record for most hits in major league history at Riverfront Stadium.
Marty is heard giving the call as Joe is screaming for the ball to get down in the outfield.
The greatest game in college basketball history:
Marty called Hank Aaron tying Babe Ruth’s home run record, and Pete Rose breaking Ty Cobb’s hit record – two of the greatest moments in baseball history.
He also called what’s considered the greatest college basketball games in history: the 1992 Kentucky vs. Duke Elite Eight game – and one of the great moments in sports history when Christian Laettner’s turnaround jump shot at the buzzer led to Duke beat UK by a miracle and advance to the Final Four.
Marty regularly called basketball games for the NCAA Basketball network during the tournament and prior to the baseball season.
“There’s nothing like the NCAA Tournament,” Brennaman told the Indianapolis Business Journal in July. “For me, all the stuff I’ve done, nothing will ever equal that.”
Brennaman called 11 Final Fours and 15 regional finals.
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