Like any longtime (and long-suffering) fan of Cincinnati Reds baseball, Wednesday’s news that 2019 would be the last season for Marty Brennaman in the radio booth was sad to hear.
My love affair with the Reds started in the 1960s, so it pre-dated Marty’s arrival. But no Reds’ radio voice has been bigger in my lifetime. He was there for the 1975 and 1976 back-to-back world championships and again in 1990 when the Reds went wire-to-wire.
During the summers he (and for many of those years Joe Nuxhall) was the voice that kept us company and kept us humming even during some of those difficult seasons, including Pete Rose’s self-destruction and so much more. Marty had his way of telling it like it was without much filter. He was always honest and always entertaining and sometimes controversial. Most of all, he is real and maybe that’s why we love him so much.
When he married Ashland native Amanda Ingram in June 2012, a new connection started.
Amanda, bless her heart, has literally shared Marty with Ashland and given us a peek into their lives. He went to high school football games on Friday nights to watch her hometown Tomcats and then showed up the following day so Amanda could watch her nephew play junior league football.
Marty was so affable, so friendly, to anyone who came upon him at those games. He never met a stranger and treated everybody who came his way and asked questions with great respect. He became a favorite in Ashland and posed for countless selfies.
In 2014, when the Salvation Army in Ashland wanted to do a winter fundraiser, he agreed to be the keynote speaker (at no charge) for the Hot Stove Luncheon. It was a huge success for two reasons: Marty Brennaman.
Everybody knows Marty, most have heard him on Reds radio and he’s always been such a friend to the Everyday Fan who speaks with him and asks questions that would make many celebrities roll their eyes. But he never did.
He and Amanda visit Ashland often with her parents and sister still living here and, by now, Marty has practically been adopted as a favorite son. Evidence of that was last year when Marty and Amanda were the grand marshals of the Winter
Wonderland Christmas Parade – a big deal in Ashland circles anyway.
Amanda has been kind to me too, setting up exclusive interviews with her husband on several stories, including in 2012 when her newlywed husband had his hair cut after the Reds went on a 10-game winning streak. And like he is with the Everyday Fan, he was so personable and fun to interview, never holding back on anything. We must have talked 30 minutes or more.
As friends of Amanda on Facebook, she has shared their adventures with an adoring Ashland audience and even wrote a weekly newspaper column – “The Brennaman Report” - for the Ashland Beacon that provided more insight into the Reds and the Brennamans.
Marty, who is 76, has been a witness to baseball history with some of the biggest calls in the game including Hank Aaron’s 714th home run, Pete Rose’s record-breaking 4,192 career hit and six no-hitters. Two of his favorite calls, he said, were Ken Griffey Jr.’s 500th and 600th home runs.
The Reds’ 2019 season could be a good one (or at least better?) with some of the offseason acquisitions. But it will also be bittersweet with this great Hall of Fame announcer turning off the mic for the last time at season’s end. Even with the Reds on television every game, listening to Marty call a game is like watching an artist paint a photo.
We’re sure going to miss hearing him and his familiar refrain – “And this one belongs to the Reds …” But what an honor it has been to invite him into our automobiles and homes for the last five decades.
MARK MAYNARD is managing editor of Kentucky Today and can be reached at email@example.com