As you are well aware of, Marty Brennaman’s career is over as the Cincinnati Reds radio broadcaster. 46 years in the books, including three World Series calls are behind him. It all came to an end last Thursday in the Reds final home game of the 2019 season. The executive decision was made to wait until the season was over to give everyone a little more time to get their thoughts together. Some of the Redleg Nation writers wanted to type out longer, more thought-out pieces on Brennaman, and we will be running those soon. Today, though, we are going to run some of the “shorter” thoughts from some of the writing crew here at Redleg Nation.
I have only fond memories of Marty Brennaman.
I remember a hot summer day driving in the car with my late Mother. I was only a kid, but it was my first real taste of Marty (and Joe at the time). We were listening to the staticky Reds broadcast in my mom’s fire engine red Jeep Cherokee when she decided to pull over and shop the nearest nursery (she loved flowers). I decided to stay in the car. I waited…and waited…and waited. I waited long enough to be upset. But I wasn’t. I passed the time with Marty and Joe – my new friends. I was captivated and entertained. I’m not sure why I’ve held onto this memory for so long – but it’s one that sticks out whenever I think of Marty, summer, and the Reds.
I also have some thoughts on Marty’s arguments against analytics (mostly because I can relate with him). In my opinion, I think Marty gets a bad wrap for having a strong stance against analytics and how its changed the way baseball is played. I think Marty understands how analytics can be used to improve a teams chances of winning – he just doesn’t like it. There’s a difference between being ignorant and being informed but not liking something. I think Marty falls into the later category. As a person who truly believes in analytics, their usefulness, and as someone who works with data and analytics on a daily basis – I kind of see where he’s coming from.
Guys like Marty and I miss small ball, bunting, stealing, and complete games. Baseball isn’t as fun as it used to be. We get analytics and the use for them, we just don’t like how they are effecting the product on the field – and that’s OK.
Normally this is a tribute I would reserve for someone who has passed away, but Marty Brennaman has had a life very well lived. He became the voice of the Reds almost at the exact time when I began following the Reds with unbridled passion as a pre-teen. Reds games became something that I planned each day around, and his voice was the way I followed the action every day during the summers (except for the occasional TV game back in those days).
Decades later, hearing his voice is still a reminder of happy days as a youth. Much like certain songs that catch your attention and make you smile when you hear them, Marty was the voice of summer for much of my life. I went to the University of Dayton to major in broadcasting with the urge to become the next Marty Brennaman. (Didn’t work out.) ?
I’m sure he’s had similar effects on generations of Cincinnatians. When you take stock of someone’s life, and you can say that person has had a positive impact on the lives of countless thousands of others, that deserves a salute. His work will live forever, synchronized with memories of three world championship teams and some of the greatest players in the history of the game. If you measure the success of one’s life by the number of other lives he or she has touched in a positive way, Marty Brennaman is in rarefied air.
During the last month of the season, I started to notice a theme running through most of the stories I heard about Marty Brennaman. Most fans listened to Marty and Joe because their parents or grandparents listened to Marty and Joe. Listening to baseball on the radio has been passed down from generation to generation, especially in Reds country.
My mom grew up listening to Marty and Joe because her dad, my grandfather, loved Sparky Anderson and the Big Red Machine. I never got the chance to meet my grandfather, but I’m sure we would have been listened to Reds baseball together if he had been alive when I was growing up. When I started liking baseball, I watched a lot of games on TV, but I always listened to the radio as well, because, like every baseball-crazed kid, I wanted to listen to the game after I went to bed. I’ve been listening to Marty since I was 11 years old.
Everything came full circle on Thursday afternoon. I went with my parents to Marty’s final game. We had our ballpark giveaway radios tuned to Marty and laughed along with him and the Cowboy as they entertained Reds fans for the final time. It’s a moment I will remember forever, and what I will remember most is the time spent with my parents as Marty provided the soundtrack. It’s the legacy he will leave–being the voice for thousands of families during those lazy summer nights.
I will miss Marty. There are many memorable calls that he had, but it is not about memorable calls as to why he is a legend. He is one of the best radio announcers in any sport, let alone baseball, and has built loyalty with his listeners by putting his listeners first. There are also few people who could so adequately and concisely describe what is going on while also keeping the listener engrossed. Marty inspired me to build a career around sports.
I’m 35-years-old. That’s important here, because it means that I truly missed the good ole days of baseball and radio. By the time I was 10-years-old, half of the Reds games were available on television via Sports Channel (and subsequently Fox Sports Ohio). And the number of games available on television grew every year moving forward. For as good as some radio broadcasters are – following the game with video was just better.
My generation, and the one that followed, doesn’t quite have the same connection with the radio crew like the one that came before us. We didn’t take in a large majority of Reds games through the radio. The radio call was there when we were driving, not so much when we planned to take in the action of the game. We probably missed out on some real good ones because of this.
Marty Brennaman didn’t always do the best job in my opinion at stuff that wasn’t describing the game as it happened. When he would talk about the stats, or about the value of players – it often was not what the baseball world was telling us was correct. The front offices were using different, and better ways of valuing players and he wasn’t keeping up. It would often rile me, and many others up, because at times it was very simply incorrect. And at other times it would just feed bad information and shape a portion of the fanbase’s opinion on a player in a bad way that wasn’t based in reality.
But let me tell you this much: If there’s a play to be made and it was, Marty Brennaman was among the best to ever call it. The description, the tone, the flow of the words – heck, the words themselves – the man was incredibly talented. If you needed a big call, he was there. And he would absolutely nail it. He’d hit it out of the park. Brennaman was a staple of Cincinnati Reds history, and while everything wasn’t always smooth sailing, the organization is much better because of his time spent with it.