‘No game more fun to broadcast than baseball’: Reds’ Marty Brennaman announces retirement

Reds' Marty Brennaman announces retirement after 2019 baseball season.

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The longtime radio voice of the Cincinnati Reds is hanging up his headset and microphone.

Hall of Famer Marty Brennaman first announced on the Cincinnati Reds' flagship station 700WLW Wednesday afternoon the 2019 season would be his last.

Brennaman has been behind the call for Cincinnati’s MLB team since 1974. Fans know his trademark victory call “and this one belongs to the Reds.”

The sportscaster finished his forty-fifth year behind the mic at the end of the 2018 season.

A clearly emotional Brennaman said the thing he would miss is the people during the announcement.

“From a play-by-play broadcasters standpoint, there’s no game more fun to broadcast than baseball,” Brennaman said during his press conference later Wednesday afternoon. “If there’s a true art form in my business, I mean doing basketball is falling out of bed, I’ve done a lot of college basketball and pro basketball, I’ve done football, if you can’t adlib and adlib reasonably and intelligibly, you can’t broadcast baseball.”

Brennaman recieved the Ford C. Frick Award in 2000 during a ceremony in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Reds officials say the award is presented each year to a broadcaster ‘for major contributions to the game of baseball.’

He along with Red Barber, Al Helfer and Russ Hodges are the only Reds announcers to ever receive the prestigious award.

The Reds say the 2019 season will be Brennaman’s fifty-fifth as a broadcaster and forty-sixth in Cincinnati.

Marty Brennaman retiring after 2019 season

He says he didn’t want a farewell tour but acknowledged that it wouldn’t have been fair to the fans to retire without notice. Brennaman said he was advised to give the announcement before the season began.

Brennaman was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in Salisbury, North Carolina in 2005. That same year, he was also inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago.

The Hall of Famer celebrated his fortieth year with the Reds in 2013 and spoke with FOX19 NOW’s Joe Danneman at the beginning of the season that year about his time with the Reds.

Marty Brennaman celebrates 40 years with the Cincinnati Reds

For 31 seasons he shared the radio booth with Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Joe Nuxhall. Their partnership came to an end in 2004 when Nuxhall retired.

“Best advice I received in 31 years with Joe Nuxhall: It’s OK to cry. It’s masculine to cry,” Brennaman said during his press conference Wednesday afternoon.

He said he cried several times Wednesday.

“I’ve had a hell-of-a run,” Brennaman said.

When asked if he’d made a list of ‘pros and cons’ before deciding to retire, the Hall of Famer said he had not, because if he had he would still be broadcasting.

Brennaman was named Ohio Sportscaster of the year 17 times, his most recent being in 2018, the Reds say.

In addition to being Ohio’s multi-time Sportscaster of the Year, Brennaman was also named Virginia Sportscaster of the Year four times while broadcasting basketball games for the American Basketball Association, AAA baseball and college football, the Reds say.

Virginia inducted him into their Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

He’s broadcasted games for the ABA’s Virginia Squires, New York Mets' AAA affiliate in Norfolk and college football games for both Virginia Tech and William and Mary, the Reds say.

The Reds say Brennaman was also behind the mic for 15 regional tournaments and 11 Final Fours during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Brennaman was named one of the top 50 broadcasters of all time by the American Sportscasters Association in 2009. He also received the Tom Hammond Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports Broadcasting from the Bluegrass Sports Commission in Lexington in 2013, the Reds say.

The legendary voice of the Reds will turn 77 during his forty-sixth season with the Reds before he retires.

Brennaman’s voice was behind big moments in Cincinnati Reds history such as their World Series victories in 1975, 1976 and 1990 and when infamous Red Pete Rose became in the ‘hit king’ in 1985.

“The obvious ones are Pete’s [Rose] record-breaking hit and Tom Browning’s perfect game and Tom Seaver’s only no-hitter, but my favorite calls are calls nobody would think about,” Brennaman said.

His favorites?

  • The walk-off home run Jay Bruce hit off Tim Byrdak in 2010 to clinch the National League Central division title against Houston in the bottom of the ninth. 
  • Ken Griffey, Jr.'s, five-hundredth home run in 2004 on Father’s Day in front of Ken Griffey, Sr.

“There was a lot of controversy about that,” Brennaman said of Griffey’s home run. "He came to me when he was sitting at 497 and he said ‘I want you to do the call' and I said ‘well if I’m on the radio I will’ and he said ‘no, you don’t understand. I want you to have every at-bat until I break the record,’ he said ‘you’ve known me since I was ‘this high.' I said ‘let me explain to you how this works, I don’t do the third, fourth and seventh, if you hit the home run in the other six innings --' he said ‘no, that’s not going to work.’ I said ‘you don’t understand.'

“We had a meeting, and finally the understanding was, the only way I would agree to do that is if the club put out a release saying that I would have each of his at-bats, but made it perfectly clear it was not my idea. Fortunately he hit number 500 in an inning which I did, and then two or three or four years later, whatever it is, he came up to me one day when he was at 597 and said ‘well I guess we’re going to do this again aren’t we?’ I didn’t pick up on it, I said ‘what are you talking about?’ He said ’600.' I said ‘are we going to do this again?’ He said ‘yes we are,’” Brennaman recalled fondly.

Griffey hit number 600 in 2008. Brennaman was on the call.

His son Thom is a television sportscaster for the Reds.

Thom Brennaman said Wednesday he would not pursue his father’s job in the Reds radio booth.

His father isn’t yet sure what he wants to spend his retirement doing. He said he and his wife Amanda traveled to Europe last year and he said that is something he’d like to do again.

“I’ve got to find something to do. I may become a greeter or be a starter at a golf course," Brennaman said.

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