A home run career

By Noell Wolfgram Evans
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Noell Wolfgram Evans
Marty Brennaman, an announcer for the Cincinnati Reds, spoke to a large crowd of baseball fans at the Grove City Library. Brennaman was a guest of the Grove City chapter of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Marty Brennaman has been captivating radio listeners for over 40 years as the voice of Cincinnati Reds baseball.

On Feb. 1, he spoke at the Grove City Library for an hour in what at times resembled more of a revival meeting than a discussion of “America’s Pastime.”

Brennaman spoke as a guest of the Grove City chapter of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

While the chapter has hosted guest speakers in the past, chapter president Jeff Ritchie said that the radio announcer was the one speaker continually asked for by chapter members. For his part, Brennaman did not disappoint.

Brennaman spent several minutes at the start commiserating with the audience on the team’s abysmal season last year.

“We had the worst bullpen I’ve ever seen, not just with the Reds, but of any team I’ve ever seen,” Brennaman said to approving applause from the faithful. “I could pick two guys out of this room and they could’ve done better.”

His criticism didn’t end there.

“The bench was awful. They couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat.”

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. He held out hope for this season, thanks in no small part to a farm system that has been rated the sixth best in the league by Baseball America.

“There’s never been a better time for kids in our organization to come in and prove they belong here,” Brennaman said as a palpable relief could be felt settling across those in attendance.

He shared several poignant stories about his late partner in the booth, Joe Nuxhall. The pair had been together for 31 years, one of the longest runs in baseball history. He also shared the story of how a chance encounter led to a lifelong friendship with one of baseball’s best.

In 1976 he was in Greenville, S.C. broadcasting a college game when he was walking through his hotel and spotted the great Ted Williams, having breakfast by himself. Long a fan of Williams, Brennaman knew this would be perhaps his only opportunity to meet the man whom he and his father had enjoyed for so many years.

Williams was gracious and invited the young broadcaster to sit with him. Every year after that, when the Reds were in Winter Haven for spring training, Williams would make an appearance at the ballpark and seek out Brennaman. They would drive around in a golf cart and swap stories.

The Grove City chapter of the Reds Hall of Fame has been in existence for three years. Ritchie said that while nearly everyone is a Reds fan, the chapter tries to see the whole perspective of baseball.

“Young and old, baseball is in everyone’s heart,” Ritchie said. “This is a great way to celebrate the game.”

Anyone interested in getting more information on the chapter can call Ritchie at 614-871-8387.

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