Within minutes of his first game as the Reds radio broadcaster, Marty Brennaman was making a historic call.
Swung on, long shot, into deep left field, Rose is back, and that ball is gone! A home run! Henry Aaron has just tied Babe Ruth’s home run record of 714 with a clout over the 375 marker in left field!
While Hank Aaron’s record-tying home run isn’t necessarily a piece of Reds history, perhaps this call foreshadowed Marty’s illustrious, 46-year career in Cincinnati. His career included many other historic calls such as Pete Rose surpassing Ty Cobb as the all-time hits leader, Tom Browning’s perfect game (the only perfect game in Reds history), Ken Griffey Jr.’s 500th and 600th home runs, and Jay Bruce’s walk off home run to clinch the NL Central and end a 15-year playoff drought. Marty was in the broadcast booth for seven division titles and three of the five Reds World Series championships.
My family had the basic cable package for most of my childhood. Fox Sports Ohio, the channel the Reds were always on, was included in the upgraded cable package. For some reason, though, that channel’s picture would come in just clearly enough to see what was happening in the game. The sound, on the other hand, was absolutely awful. Kind of like endlessly listening to nails on a chalkboard. So, I would mute the TV and grab my small portable radio. I’d tune in to 700 WLW and listen to Marty and Joe (or Marty and Jeff in later years). The radio broadcast was always slightly ahead of the TV broadcast, but I didn’t care because I was able to listen to Marty and Joe. That’s how I spent many summer nights as a kid.
I vividly remember Opening Day on April 4th, 2005. I was shooting basketball outside of my house in southwest Ohio and listening intently to the game on the radio. Joe Randa came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game. Randa blasted a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left field to win the game for the Reds. Then came the words many Reds fans were always so desperate to hear, whether on Opening Day or any other gameday:
And this one belongs to the Reds!
To be totally honest, I don’t remember many of Marty’s historic calls. I’m young. Young enough to have never experienced a Reds World Series championship and young enough that I’m unable to personally recall the last Reds playoff series victory. In other words, I’ve witnessed a lot more losing than winning.
For me, the best thing about listening to Marty Brennaman was not those historic calls, but rather his ability to turn something so ordinary into something that was legendary and memorable. Joe Randa played in a Reds uniform for a grand total of 92 games, and the Reds final record in the 2005 season was 73-89. There was nothing special about that season or the stats that Randa put up in his 92 games, but there was something special about listening to Marty Brennaman on the radio. I’ll always remember that Opening Day game and Joe Randa’s name because of Marty’s call that April afternoon. It’s for that same reason that as a kid I was able to stare at a fuzzy TV screen and listen to the radio spoil what my eyes were about to witness on TV. Whether the game was close and I was on the edge of my seat, or the game was a blowout and I was only listening in hopes to hear one of his humorous anecdotes, listening to Marty on the radio was special.
I have my own unique memories of listening to Marty on 700 WLW, but there’s no doubt in my mind that most Reds fans have similar memories of him turning an ordinary Reds game during an ordinary Reds season into something enduring. Maybe for you it was Adam Dunn’s walk-off grand slam in a nine run comeback victory in 2006. Maybe it was Juan Francisco’s mammoth 502 foot home run that left Marty in shock. Maybe it was the time he expressed how most of us feel about the wave breaking out in the stands of Great American Ballpark:
One of the few times this season we have seen the dreaded wave. Should be national legislation making it a felony to do the wave. Should automatically be put in jail.
Whatever moment comes to mind for you, we have Marty to thank for many memories. Historic or ordinary.
Marty will call his last Reds game this afternoon. I’m planning to tune in, and you can count on the fact that I will be listening in anticipation to hear Marty say those famous words one last time:
And this one belongs to the Reds!