“Come the end of the 2019 season, I’m retiring as a broadcaster with the Reds.”
With those 15 words, uttered shortly after he was introduced at the Cincinnati Reds annual Reds on Radio affiliates luncheon and broadcast on WLW-AM, Marty Brennaman announced the end of a Baseball Hall of Fame broadcasting career that is entering its 46th season with the Reds and 55th of his life.
The decision wasn’t easy, said Brennaman, who was hired by the Reds in 1974 and admittedly is healthy enough to keep working. That good health also is a reason he’s retiring.
“Vin Scully was in his 67th year (with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers) three years ago when he announced that he was retiring,” recalled Brennaman, who turns 77 years old in July. “I got to spend about 35 minutes with him one day. That kind of time is like an audience with the Pope. I asked him, ‘Why now? You sound as good as ever.’ He said, ‘It’s just time. Sixty-seven years is enough.’ That’s how it is for me. I’ve got my health, and there are things we want to do.
“I asked him, ‘Are you concerned about it?’ He said, ‘I’m scared to death.’”
Brennaman, speaking in the Fox Sports Club at Great American Ball Park, admitted to similar doubts.
»PHOTOS: Marty Brennaman through the years
“It’s emotional,” he said in front of a crowd that included his wife Amanda and children, Thom, Ashley and Dawn. “I thought about it a long time. I’ve anguished over this as much as I’ve anguished over anything in my life. There have many times I’ve been awake at 4 a.m., staring off into the darkness and thinking about what I’m doing.”
Brennaman already had been named Virginia Sportscaster of the Year four times when he was hired to replace the popular Al Michaels, who left Cincinnati after three seasons to work for the San Francisco Giants. Joe Nuxhall already was working in the Reds broadcast booth, and he and Marty formed a partnership that became a close friendship and lasted 31 seasons.
“We spent 31 years together,” Brennaman said later Wednesday afternoon during an interview on WLW. “That equals the longest of any team in history, and that was Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett, and I’m as proud of that as anything else that I’ve done.”
Reds President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini pointed out that Brennaman’s last season coincides with the Reds’ and Major League Baseball’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the invention of all-professional baseball by the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.
“We’ve known that 2019 would be an historic year for the Reds and all of Major League Baseball as we collectively celebrate the 150th season,” Castellini said. “What a fitting way to leave after (46) years while we’re celebrating 150 years. What we just heard adds an even greater significance to the season to come. When you think about it, the Reds have been here for 150 years and Marty’s been here for 46. That’s 30 percent of its existence. Think of that.
“He’s not just a broadcaster,” Castellini added. “There isn’t anybody – certainly in our area, but maybe Vin Scully – who has gained more stature and respect as a broadcaster than Marty Brennaman. Marty’s historic run has cemented a place for himself in Reds history.”
During Brennaman’s tenure, the Reds have won three World Series and he’s described historic moments from Hank Aaron’s 714th career home run, which tied Babe Ruth’s record – in the first inning of Brennaman’s first game, no less – to Pete Rose’s 4,192nd hit, which pushed him past Ty Cobb into the No. 1 slot on baseball’s career hits list.
Brennaman received in 2000 the Ford C. Frick Award, which is awarded annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for “major contributions to the game.” He’s been named by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association as Ohio’s Sportscaster of the Year 17 times and has been inducted into both the NSSA Hall of Fame and the National Radio Hall of Fame. He was selected in 2009 by the American Sportscasters Association as one of the Top 50 broadcasters of all time.