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.