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Marty Brennaman: Being Opening Day Parade Grand Marshal 'Will Kick Off My Retirement'

Marty Brennaman
John Minchillo
Marty Brennaman will be grand marshal of the 101st Findlay Market Opening Day Parade.

Marty Brennaman says being grand marshal for the 101st Findlay Market Opening Day Parade March 26 "will be the official kick-off to my retirement."

The Hall of Fame Reds play-by-play announcer says he's been just as busy this winter as in past years, despite retiring in September after 46 seasons on radio.

He attended Redsfest, rode the Reds Caravan and made speeches and other promotional appearances.

"This is just like a normal off-season," he said Tuesday while vacationing out West with his wife, Amanda, before arriving at the Reds' Arizona spring training complex later this week.

Credit Courtesy Amanda Brennaman
Marty and Amanda in the Reds radio booth during his farewell season in 2019.

Brennaman will be busy Opening Day, as usual. He'll make a promotional appearance at the new downtown Kroger store 8-10 a.m.; ride in the noon parade; and attend the 4:10 p.m. Reds-Cardinals game at Great American Ball Park.

Serving as parade grand marshal will be "extremely special," Brennaman says.

His life changes after that. He won't be going to the ball park every day to broadcast Reds' games.

"It's going to be nice to be able to do what I want to do" during the baseball season, he says. Marty and Amanda plan to travel to Europe in May, shortly after he's inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony at Great American Ball Park on Sunday, April 26, and honored at a gala that night at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

"We're so excited to have Marty Brennaman as grand marshal of the parade.  He's what Cincinnati baseball is all about," said Neil Luken, parade chairman, at Tuesday's press conference.

Credit John Kiesewetter / WVXU
Parade poster for 100th Findlay Market Opening Day parade in 2019 with Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.

"I just can't wait for the cheers when he goes rolling down the street from the people who appreciate everything he did," Luken said.

This will be the second Opening Day parade for Brennaman. He says he once rode with radio partner Joe Nuxhall  "in the 1980s, at the latest." He turned down invitations after that because "it put me out of my pregame routine, and I said if I'd do it again it would be after I retire."

Talk about being the grand marshal dates back to last year, as the Reds were planning Marty's September retirement and Reds Hall of Fame induction.

"We've been working with Marty for a really long time in planning out what you saw and heard, and everything that we as fans experienced last year," said Phil Castellini, Reds president and chief operating officer, at Tuesday's press conference. "I think it was a great year for Marty, an appropriate send-off, to be capped off with an induction in the (Reds) Hall of Fame. (He's) the first broadcaster in the Hall of Fame." 

Brennaman – who was presented the Ford C. Frick Award 20 years ago at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. – will be one of three Hall of Famers in the Findlay Market Parade.  Also participating will be Pro Football Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz from the Bengals, and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas, the Middletown High School star who played for the NBA Cincinnati Royals, New York Knicks and San Francisco Warriors.

Credit John Kiesewetter / WVXU
Amanda Brennaman waving to fans at the 2019 parade.

Lucas, who won a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics while at Ohio State University, will ride on a float saluting area Olympians. It will also feature former UC and Royals basketball player George Wilson; archer Darrell Pace; swimmers Jenny Kemp and Joe Hudepohl; gymnasts Amanda Borden and Jaycie Phelps; and runners Mary Wineberg and Bob Schul.

Last year MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was grand marshal for the centennial parade, riding in a convertible with Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, also a former grand marshal. Amanda rode in the parade wearing a Brennaman No. 46 Reds jersey, while her husband was busy at Great American Ball Park.

This year they'll be riding together, said Marty, while driving with Amanda to Palm Springs Tuesday. They flew to Portland, Ore., and drove down the West Coast, staying overnight at two lighthouses, while taking a vacation before going to spring training.

"We've been tourists, and taking lots of pictures," Marty said. "This is the essence of what I hope the rest of my retirement will be like."

WVXU reporter Bill Rinehart contributed to this story.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.