I have to admit, I got a little teary-eyed this morning on my way to work.
Today is Marty Brennaman's final broadcast as Reds play-by-play radio announcer after 46 years. If you're not a Reds fan, or a baseball fan, you likely won't understand. But Marty and his longtime partner, Joe Nuxhall, were the soundtrack of my childhood.
Their voices brought baseball into my house every summer night when I was a kid. And what better gift?
From the time I discovered baseball when I was about 9 years old, until I moved out of Ohio after college, I listened to more than a thousand Reds games on the radio.
It may sound both cliche and of another time, but I remember school nights sneaking the radio under my pillow. Just one more inning. Just one more out. Until, hopefully, I'd hear Marty's signature line, just one more time, after a Reds victory: "And this one belongs to the Reds."
I remember sitting by a lake fishing with my Grandpa Bella, listening to Jose Rijo dominate back in that world championship 1990 season. I don't remember if we caught a single fish that day, but I'll always remember sitting in the shade on a bucket with my grandpa's old silver radio belting out Marty and Joe.
As a kid, during baseball season I'd drag a radio with me wherever I went. While my parents were walking around an arts festival, I'd be listening as Lenny Harris hit a line-drive single to left to close out an epic comeback.
I'd be sitting in my Grandma Canan's steamy apartment in Chillicothe, Ohio, listening as Jeff Brantley closed out a Reds win. My Grandma Canan loved listening to the Reds on the radio, and she loved Marty and Joe. It was something that, out of the whole Canan family, only she and I shared.
I'd be cleaning the attic at my parents house listening as Eddie Taubensee hit a grand slam to put the Reds in front.
I'd be sitting in my room, filled with teenage angst with the windows open, listening to both the chirp of crickets outside and Joe Nuxhall butchering the pronunciation of some poor opposing player's name.
As the world changed, more and more games came to us via TV. But there was still something special about listening to a game on the radio.
When I was driving, listening to the game in the car was something special. And Marty and Joe were always there.
I remember driving to a friend's house and sitting in the car for 10 extra minutes to listen to the final outs of a Ron Villone shutout back in that magical yet heartbreaking 1999 season.
"What the heck were you doing?" everyone asked when I finally came inside.
"Just listening," I said.
In college, I had the honor of interviewing, and later meeting, Marty.
It was a surreal experience, having that voice, THE voice, talking directly to me. Answering my questions. It was as if the radio suddenly started a conversation with me.
Then in 2007, Joe Nuxhall died.
He'd been mostly retired by that point. Still, his death hit me hard. In a way, the moment I heard Joe was dead was the end of my youth. From Florida where I was living, I followed all the funeral coverage.
In the last few years, I introduced my boys to Marty and the voice I had known since my own childhood. As much as they love the game, I don't think they quite get the joy of listening to baseball on the radio. And that makes me sad.
There is something special about only having those descriptions and imagining pictures of what is happening.
Maybe there is just something special about Marty.
Even as recently as a year or two ago, if there was a dramatic Reds win and I wasn't listening to the radio, the next day I would go and find Marty's call of that play. Just to hear how he called it. Or maybe just to make it seem like I'd been listening all along. Like I was still that 12-year-old baseball obsessed boy, laying in bed well past light's out, hoping to hear Marty Brennaman say the seven sweetest words in the English language: "And this one belongs to the Reds."
Mike Canan is the Senior Director of Local Media Content at WCPO. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @Mike_Canan.