On his birthday four years ago, I first proposed the Reds honor Hall of Fame radio announcer Marty Brennaman with the "ultimate birthday present," a statue on Crosley Terrace. I've updated the column for his 77th birthday today during his 46th and final season on Reds radio. Happy birthday, Marty! ! (And Happy Birthday to his wife, Amanda, who also celebrates one today!)
As he celebrates his 77th birthday today, Marty Brennaman sounds as excited as that rookie big league radio announcer who joined Joe Nuxhall in 1974. That’s what made him a Hall of Famer.
Marty has been our summer soundtrack for 46 years. Reds fans will say he's best known for his calls of the Big Red Machine; the 1990 World Series; Pete Rose's hit number 4,192' Tom Browning's perfect game; Jay Bruce's Central Division clinching homer in 2010; or Ken Griffey Jr.'s 600th home run.
To me, Marty's at his best when the Reds are at their worst. Just listen. Marty and Jeff Brantley or Tommy Thrall keep fans laughing and engaged through yet another losing season.
I say it's time to start planning the ultimate birthday present for Marty Brennaman – a statue on Crosley Terrace to go with the Big Red Machine, Frank Robinson, Ted Kluszewski, Ernie Lombardi and Joe Nuxhall, the Old Lefthander who was Marty's radio partner for 31 years.
Marty should be at the mic outside Great American Ball Park.
There's a statue of Cardinals' announcer Jack Buck outside Busch Stadium. There's a statue of Cubs' announcer Harry Caray outside Wrigley Field. There's a statue of Vin Scully's microphone outside Dodgers Stadium. And inside Miller Park, seated in the last row behind a pole, there's a statue of Brewers' announcer Bob Uecker.
It would have been nice if Marty would stick around long enough to get us to another post-season. But he wants to retire while he's in good health, so he can travel and enjoy life with his wife, Amanda.
Brennaman explained to Dayton's WING-AM last week that Nuxhall, who died at 79 in 2007, influenced his decision to retire at 77:
"I made this decision a long time ago. I announced it in January, but I knew three or four years ago. I've said it a million times, when Joe retired, he was physically incapable of doing a lot of things that he wanted to do, and that made a tremendous impact on me. I decided then that I'm going to retire when I have my health about me, when I can go places and do things and not have to worry about some physical infirmity… That was probably the biggest single reason I decided to quit when I did."
The Enquirer has been promoting putting Brennaman's signature phrase, "And This One Belongs To The Reds," in lights on the stadium or an adjacent Reds building. I think Marty should be on Crosley Terrace in bronze, at the mic, with the Reds greatest stars. Because he's a star, too.
Marty is the last remaining link to the back-to-back Big Red Machine World Champions in 1975-76. He was the voice of 1990 wire-to-wire champs, and the playoff teams in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
More importantly, he has been our daily connection to the Reds through all the lean years; not just our eyes and ears, but also our conscience. As he told the Dayton radio station on July 18: "For God's sakes, we've watched four years of brutal baseball. And right now things aren't real promising about how this season is going to end up."
To me, this season ends when Marty retires after the Reds' last home game, Thursday, Sept. 26, against the Brewers. He's skipping the last road trip to Pittsburgh. He's been honored by teams around the league. The Milwaukee Brewers last week gave him a personalized red Titleist golf bag and Reds' shoes.
The Reds should give him a statue.
Marty has been a major influence on thousands of Reds fans who come to Great American Ball Park when the club is languishing in last.
He deserves to be permanently enshrined on Crosley Terrace with the Big Red Machine and the Old Lefthander. Because this one belongs to the Reds.