Reds Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer Marty Brennaman has a clause in his contract which will allow him to choose his successor.

That is according to a July 26 article on The Athletic (subscription required) by Milwaukee-based writer Robert Murray. July 26 was during the Reds’ most recent trip to Milwaukee, and you may remember that the Brewers broadcasters prepared quite the retirement/going-away soiree for Brennaman. It included Skyline Chili they flew in from Cincinnati. It turns out there is a very special relationship between Brewers TV broadcaster Brian Anderson and Brennaman.

According to the Murray article, Anderson approached Marty and his son Thom in a Chicago bar in 1993, when Anderson was just trying to get his broadcasting career started. Anderson told the Brennamans that his brother, pitcher Mike Anderson, had recently been called up by the Reds. It started a conversation about baseball and broadcasting which lasted for hours.

“At around 1 a.m., Brennaman shook Anderson’s hand and gave him a final, simple message: If you need help, do not hesitate to reach out,” the article reads.

To make a very long and entertaining story short, Brennaman made good on his word. Anderson and many other aspiring broadcasters have reached out to him over his many years with the Reds, and he has helped them with advice and critiques. On at least one occasion, Brennaman offered Anderson to sit in the broadcast booth with him in Houston.

Of Anderson, Brennaman said in the article, “He’s my poster boy. I’m as proud of him as if he was my boy.”

Another key quote attributed to Brennaman in the article: “I’m a big fan of young guys coming up out of the minor leagues to get big-league broadcasting jobs. I’m not a fan of hiring a guy because he had a .310 batting average, that he had 500 home runs. That automatically makes him a broadcaster? No freaking way it doesn’t.”

All of this background puts some context on the presence of Tommy Thrall in the Reds broadcast booth this season. He worked as the broadcaster for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos for seven years while that team was the Reds’ Class AA affiliate, and did some brief work in the Reds broadcast booth last year.

It is unclear what, if any, relationship that Thrall and Brennaman have had prior to the past two seasons. What is clear now is that Thrall is indeed in a year-long audition for the radio play-by-play job in 2020, and it will be Marty Brennaman who will make that call — not someone in an executive position with the team. It is quite interesting that Brennaman would seek such a clause, and apparently for the purpose of ensuring that someone deserving who has honed his craft in the minors gets a chance at the major league level.

Sometime after the conclusion of this season, we’ll learn how Thrall did in his audition.


35 Responses

  1. WhyTho

    Radio is already dying, Klugo. Why do you want to put the final nail in it’s coffin?

  2. Ghettotrout1

    I’m glad Marty has this clause thats pretty cool.

  3. Mark

    I believe it is going to be Mr. Thrall he is just very smooth with his delivery and works well with Brantley from the times I have listed to games this year.

    • daytonnati

      Please no Danny Graves! Move Lecure into that slot.

  4. Big Ed

    Whoever the new guy is, he will almost certainly be rotated regularly into the television booth. And that may well mean fewer TV games for Thhhom.

  5. Bromleyjake

    It’s got to be none other than Marty’s favorite Red, Joey Votto! No worries, he can stay in the game and give him a headset so he can provide some play by play.

    • Tommy loves Joey

      I think Headset Joey giving in-game play-by-play is genius! We might need a 7 second delay on called strikes outside the zone.

  6. Matt WI

    As I was reading this post I was half hoping it was going to suggest Brian Anderson as a dark horse for the job. He’s great on Brewer’s tv as the main play by play. For Marty liking him as a “son” he shares none of either Brennamen’s tendencies toward bombast, disdain, and negativity.

    See my post in game thread last night about Cowboy’s still ever so lacking play by play chops.

    • Matt Esberger

      I remember Brian Anderson did TV work in Cleveland (Sports Time OH) about 10 years while out with Tommy John surgery. I thought he did pretty well in the pregame & field reporter role. I think he tried a comeback with Tampa Bay after that and worked in their front office.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      In the article referenced above, Brian Anderson states that he has developed a loyalty to Milwaukee, partially on the advice of Marty.

  7. sidney

    I liked Kelch as well. What I’m not fond of, I guess because I’m an old timer, is tuning in and never knowing what to expect from series to series. As when it used to just be Marty & Joe, just give me Marty & Jeff down the stretch please.

    I guess maybe Thrall will grow on me, but I’m not over the top crazy about him – maybe just because there’s been a lack of consistency in who he’s been paired with.

    • Bill J

      Sid, agreed with you never know who will be on. I gave up listening a couple of years ago.

    • Todd Powers

      When I had my store business, I worked Sunday evenings/nights and I would walk around listening to the Pensacola game on my iPhone. Thrall grew on me real quick. He’s good.

  8. Matt WI

    Just looked… Marty’s last home game is Sept 26, a Thursday night. Reds finish w/ 3 that weekend against Pittsburgh. I wonder if he’ll choose to go out at home, or ride out that last out of the season. Will be appointment listening.

    • Matt WI

      Rather, that last home game is an afternoon game. Boo.

    • stout2441

      I remember seeing somewhere he will NOT be going on the final road trip.

  9. SultanofSwaff

    His contractual clause screams privilege. I wouldn’t expect any less from a man with such a big ego. Can’t wait til he’s gone, wish Thom was joining him.

    • Coachgates

      Somewhat hurtful words there. I think you are allowed an ego of sorts when you have done as much for Cincinnati Reds baseball as Marty has. He’s not perfect by any means but all you have to do is listen to some of the other radio guys around the league and realize we are fortunate to have a Hall of Fame broadcaster to listen to.

      • Todd Powers

        Indeed. I have an MLBatBat account and I listen to other games all the time. Marty is outstanding.

        Giants have the best all-round broadcast team for both radio and TV.
        Dodgers TV’s Orel Hershiser is the most insightful analyst in the game.
        Dodgers Radio Charlie Steiner (1980’s ESPN) and Rick Monday are good to listen too, as well.

        Brewers’ have a good crew to listen to while going about your business.

        Pirates Bob Walk is hilarious.

        Cardinals’ Mike Shannon has the best voice.

        Braves’ Jim Powell and Don Sutton are an insightful duo that could work has a low key comedy team. They are not to be missed. My favorite after the Reds.

        Finally, I was majorly disappointed that the Cubs had such a bland broadcasting team.

    • Big Ed

      I have my doubts that the “choose-his-successor” story is accurate. I don’t doubt that the Reds would take Marty’s recommendation, but what kind of business decision is it to allow a third party to select the business’s future employees? And especially for a job with such a high profile.

      • William E Lack

        I tend to agree. I didn’t read the article, but wonder if they list their source for this information. Why would the Reds do this, it’s crazy? And even if they did, what’s to stop them from demoting/firing him after 1 game, 10, a season? Just doesn’t seem logical to me.

  10. SomeCallMeTim

    He’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame. What did you do with your life?

  11. Mike

    Hey, Thom is annoying for sure, but anyone but Jim Day!!!

  12. burtgummer

    I’ll take his place !! Of course the job won’t last because I’d be cussing out Pirate pitchers as they try to bean Red players

  13. David

    I’ve listened to Marty for a lot of years. Well, since 1973 when he replaced Al Michaels.
    I miss Marty and Joe together, but Joe has moved on to the big booth in the sky.

    Marty has his ups and downs, and I think some of the long losing years have taken a toll on him.
    But he was always a professional about broadcasting. There are a lot of people that have come and gone in broadcasting. Marty sometimes gets ascerbic when he thinks a player is not doing his best. He used to identify with the team a lot more, and was kind of told by one of the players once…”Your team, were you playing?”

    And Marty told that story, to put it in perspective, that no, he is not a player and no, he does not have anything to do with winning and losing. He has made a lot of friends among the players over the years. He used to do ABA basketball, and is actually good friends with Julius Erving. I remember in the 1980’s, when Terry Francona was a bench player/role player for the Reds. He and Marty became friends, and Francona, now manager of the Indians, has no bigger fan than Marty. Marty has praised him as one of the nicest people in baseball, and deserving of all the success he has had.

    We as fans don’t see the game and the players as close up as Marty. I think sometimes he gets a little sore at some players because I think they act like jerks off the field, and he knows it. You have to read between the lines a little.

    My two cents about this, from listening to the games on the radio since the 1960’s, when Waite Hoyt did the broadcasts.

    • JB WV

      Great post David, especially the friendship with the Doc; I had no idea. I’m an old timer too, and met Marty a couple of times over the years. Always gracious and forthright. It’s the end of an era for some of us.

    • JB

      Thank you David for the nice words. I like Marty and Thom and every other broadcaster for the Reds. Life is to short to look at what’s wrong with people and all the other junk. Let’s find the good in people and be thankful for the day.

  14. JB

    I believe Marty’s last game will be sometime in November! Going out as a champion! ?

  15. Chris G

    I am highly skeptical of this report. No business gives an incumbent the contractual right to choose his successor. That just doesn’t happen. Perhaps Marty has the right to “offer input” on future broadcasters, or some such. But there’s not frickin’ way he has unfettered power to approve any hire.

    • JB

      Marty has his faults but he truly loves the Reds and is a great broadcaster I really like Sam Lecure , hoping that his role gets expanded. I’m hoping that Thom is eased out the door after Marty retires . I find myself hitting the mute button a lot because of Thom.

  16. Nick F.

    It really is sad to see Marty go. I met him as a kid at Reds Fest in 2002 and it was one of my favorite memories of going there. It kind of sucks that some of the things he has said about Votto over the past few years have kind of turned the fan base against him, but we all kind of expected a little more out of Votto.

    On the other end of this though, living in Colorado now, I watch a lot of the games on and really don’t like hearing Thom all the time. Thom is fully capable of making a game unwatchable. If it weren’t for the park noise audio that you can play instead of the broadcasters, I would watch a lot fewer Reds games. I hope this starts helping move Thom out of the booth for Reds games.