CINCINNATI - This wasn't going to end well. How could it? I mean long suffering Reds on radio fans, particularly those who'd grown up on a steady diet of Waite Hoyt had finally, after several permutations, found their guy. We didn't know much about Al Michaels when he assumed the play by play role in 1971. It didn't matter. He simply had 'It'. The voice, the cadence, the puckishness to be the eyes and ears of those who couldn't be there.
And suddenly, after 4 seasons, he was gone. To San Francisco? As the millennials put it (without their sometimes coarse blandishment) WT_?
So here we go again. Another national search to fill a peculiarly local void: providing the sound track of summer for hundreds of thousands of Tri-State baseball fans umbilically linked to the teams fate via the airwaves. A responsibility not to be taken lightly. And indeed Cincinnati enjoyed a small galaxy of radio luminaries since Powell Crosley established a network for his team's broadcasts. Red Barber set a high bar which Hoyt hoisted to legendary heights.
Enter Michaels who would eventually add his intonations to Miracles on Ice among other iconic events. And then he was gone!
It fell to the late Jim Winter, the Reds director of broadcasting, an absolute prince of a guy, and former Reds General Manager Dick Wagner, himself a pretty insightful if not widely popular fellow, to plug a huge hole in the air.
From a field of nominees that exceeded 200, they settled on Marty. No not settled; that would suggest a resignation to something less. Put it this way: They didn't submit to focus groups or public stunts. They had the guts to rely on their instincts, putting their reputations on the line by selecting a diminutive Carolinian with a big voice and it turns out even bigger talent.
We owe both a debut of gratitude for one of the biggest calls of their careers. On the subject of getting it right, Marty — regaled on the occasion of his 40th year as the Reds voice — has never blown a big call. Never! He always gets it right. And his relationship with the late Joe Nuxhall is the stuff of a Norman Rockwell painting.
As for being opinionated? So be it. Don't ask his take if you aren't prepared for both barrels. Marty Brennaman doesn't concern himself with 'brand.' He has a reputation.
But he has always been supportive of young broadcasters even if that urging doesn't always take the form of 'atta boys.' Sometimes his brand of encouragement will be a barked, "You're better than that." And in the final analysis we were.
Finally, any who viewed Marty as pricklish over the years were thus chastened by his decision to go hairless last summer to benefit the Dragonfly Foundation. Not since Telly Savalas has a pared pate had such impact. The fact he has survived for 40 years in one market, with one team is testament to his ability and certainly the stuff of a Hall of Famer.
And to think he belongs to Cincinnnati.
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