As Lance McAllister pointed out recently, our time with Marty Brennaman behind the mic is dwindling inning by inning. That’s good and welcome news for some, and I understand the contrariness. But I’m having trouble imagining the game without him, probably because I do a lot of listening without really listening. It’s nice to have him there, and I’m dreading not having him there.
Which is why we need to consider the idiotic fact that Great American Ball Park is missing something. In large light-up letters rounding third base and heading for home plate, “ROUNDING THIRD AND HEADING FOR HOME” greets the visitor and the welcomes homecomer. It is a lovely, non-commercial, one of a kind, creative tribute to our Joe Nuxhall’s signoff.
Maybe because Joe was a local guy, and a player as well as a broadcaster with an early appearance record that will never be broken, but Marty’s signature phrase, “AND THIS ONE BELONGS TO THE REDS” isn’t where it should be, on the opposing corner.
I had to look this stupidity up to make sure it wasn’t the output of some then-bachelorette lifestyling, but no, it actually happened: In the final stages of the stadium design of Great American Ball Park, Hamilton County officials reportedly blocked Marty’s end of the sign, because, they said, the stadium itself did not belong to the Reds, but the County.
Perhaps this was an excuse generated by anti-Marty forces within the Reds. I certainly hope the reason is not actually what it was stated to be, because it’s incredibly embarrassing. In every moment of every second I’ve spent as a political science major, I have never seen, heard, or read anything so willfully, spitefully literal. I believe I remember Marty himself correctly describing this as “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” or something appropriately similar.
That the issue hasn’t been revisited is also asinine. Maybe the team has some sort of eight-foot, 26-letter surprise planned for Marty come October, but this team loves to market itself to itself while admiring itself marketing itself, so I doubt it.
You might make the argument that placing Marty’s signature next to Joe’s might unfairly equate the two, and there are things Joe were that Virginia-born Marty could never be. But when the market zeitgeist is to amplify the personal, install the quirky, and Instagram the area code, why not? And would there be a Joe as we know him without Marty? Or Marty without Joe? Why are they separated?
Is a statue of Brennaman, perhaps, more appropriate? Where are they gonna put it? Next to the eleventy billion in Crosley Terrace (already properly situated to celebrate the team’s more distant past), or by the pavilion with the nine sculpted faces, or the Great 8 bronze littering Second Street even though they’re all already metaled up in the Hall of Fame twice over?
We’re really going to keep pushing with the statues? What about the 1990 team? And the greats to come? Where’s Derek Dietrich’s statue of him staring at his moon shot going to go (beyond, as some brilliant Twitter mind pointed out, facing Pittsburg)? The statues are getting to be like Hitler social media comparisons: They’re everywhere. If everybody gets a statue, nobody gets a statue.
Maybe we get Marty a mosaic in the two blank spaces next to what’s already there inside the ball park, but we need to reserve room for the Puig masterpiece and a four-take, Andy Warhol-style study of Joey Votto trolling various journalists. Nobody’s thinking ahead here.
No, the man who made his mark on this town and this sport with his words should be honored and remembered as such. Light Marty up.