On Your Marc: 1/30

Yeah, Marty said that

Marty Brennaman lives by his words

It’s not quite accurate to say in less than a month, you will be listening to the Reds.

In reality, you’ll be listening to Marty Brennaman, and what could be better than that?

His voice stands out. His accuracy stands out. His clarity stands out. His honest replay of what’s happening with the Reds makes him the leader in a parade of one for truthfulness.

He is the voice of, if not the spokesperson for, the Reds on radio.

Many of his colleagues have mandates to not only report on the action, but hawk tickets as well.

Brennaman doesn’t hawk tickets. If the product is bad—as it has been recently—he tells you.

What is it Howard Cosell used to say? Take a back seat, Howard.

That Brennaman tells the truth and, remaining easy on the ears, it is more remarkable since he has done it through multiple franchise ownerships, including his second ownership group, headed by the irascible Marge Schott, back in the 1980s.

For that, we can thank those ownership groups who have, over a number of years, made outstanding decisions on Reds’ broadcast announcers. Red Barber started here. Russ Hodges broadcasted here. And, of course, Al Michaels spoke here—if there’s a better Hall of Fame lineup anywhere, please let me know.

Also in the Reds’ currently over-stuffed radio and television booths is Thom Brennaman, Marty’s son, and an excellent replacement should Marty decide to give his voice a rest.

“I think I’m in very good company with those other guys,” Brennaman said. “And you could throw in Waite Hoyt, too. It’s unusual when you think of some other cities of comparable size.”

As I told Marty, Hoyt was a little quirky in his delivery, yet a popular voice for the fans, as was Joe Nuxhall, the Reds’ No. 2 voice for years following his playing career.

Odd as it may seem, Hoyt is in baseball’s Hall of Fame as a player and not a broadcaster, while Brennaman, Barber, and Hodges are all in the broadcaster’s wing of the Hall and somehow Michaels is not.

“I’ve been blessed,” Brennaman said in a recent telephone interview. “I’ve never tried to figure it out. When the club ownership changes, as it has several times over the years, they just accept me as part of the deal.

“I sure as hell know they don’t agree with everything I say, but fortunately, I’ve been able to say it.”

Not that he hasn’t had some close calls.

Former CEO John Allen would say at gatherings, “‘The opinions expressed by Marty Brennaman are not exactly those expressed by ownership.’

“He would laugh,” Brennaman said, with a pause. “He was dead serious. He wasn’t joking.”

A story on Schott came the day columnist Tim Sullivan wrote, “a pretty serious negative column,” about her, and Brennaman was seen having dinner with Sullivan in the Riverfront Stadium media dining room.

Brennaman saw her the next day, asking how she was.

“Not good,” Schott said.

“I knew what she was leading to. I said, ‘What’s the problem?’

“She said, ‘I saw who you had dinner with in the press dining room last night and I didn’t like it.’

“I very politely said, ‘Marge, I’ve been here 25 years and no one’s ever told me who I could talk to or who I could dine with. With all due respect, it’s not going to start now.’

“She said, ‘Do you know who signs your paycheck?’ I said, ‘Yes ma’am, I do.’

“And that was the end of it. That was it.”

Brennaman notes more than a few other broadcasters, “have to measure every word that comes out of their mouth. I never had that problem.

“I’ve had people come up and tell me I tell it like it is. No, I tell it like I think it is.”

He remembered a game against the Mets at Shea Stadium more than 40 years ago on a cold day when George Foster messed up two balls in the outfield. Brennaman unloaded, only to find out Foster had been playing with the flu and a 102-degree temperature.

“I went back to him the next day and apologized to him,” Brennaman said. “If you’re going to go out on the limb and criticize a player or the team, you better have your ducks in a row.”

On that account, Brennaman says he has nothing against Reds first baseman Joey Votto, even though in past years he has criticized Cincinnati’s best player for not hitting enough home runs or collecting enough RBIs.

“Joey Votto did last year what I said he should have been doing previously,” Brennaman said. “That’s hitting home runs and driving in runs. I’m an old school guy. What Joey Votto did in 2017 was embrace every bit of that; it’s what makes him special.”

Brennaman just thought Votto wasn’t doing enough of that every season, and some fans took note: “People thought I committed serial killings,” Brennaman said. “Nobody was more happy than I was (last year). I think he had the best single all-around year even when you compare it to his MVP year.”

By the way, Brennaman and Votto share a good professional relationship.

Speaking of good relationships, turn on your radio when Marty Brennaman’s calling the action. You’ll know right away why he’s in the Hall of Fame. 


Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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