Sunday, July 23, 2000
Marty has classic voice for classic memories
From the Big Red Machine to Red October to March Madness, Brennaman's been there, making us feel like we were there, too
By Scott MacGregor
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Marty Brennaman is a Hall of Famer, which is enough to stamp him as one of the great baseball broadcasters of all time. He's just the 24th man inducted into the broadcasting wing of the Hall. But his legacy won't stop with baseball.
Brennaman is the only broadcaster who can say he called one of the greatest baseball games of all time (Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, when Carlton Fisk waved his home run fair in the 12th inning) and arguably the greatest college basketball game ever (a 1992 Elite Eight game between Duke and Kentucky, when Christian Laettner's turnaround buzzer-beater off an inbound pass sent Duke to the Final Four, which Brennaman did for CBS radio.)
I think he's just about the luckiest guy I've ever known. What a great life he's had, said broadcaster Warner Fussell, who worked with Brennaman at WSAI radio in North Carolina in the early 1970s.
So what is Brennaman's legacy?
It's hard to say, because he's still a relatively young man, said Hall of Famer Vin Scully of the Los Angeles Dodgers. People will try to copy his style. I'm sure there are people in around Ohio that borrow his mannerisms, his descriptive phrases, all of the other things.
The fact that he has made the Hall of Fame would assure that people will believe in him. He has honesty, and that's the No.1 criteria.
What Brennaman has that most baseball greats don't is versatility. He's just as good at basketball maybe even better. And that makes his place in history as one of the best even more secure.
He'll be one of the top five (baseball announcers) that ever lived, said his son, Thom Brennaman, a broadcaster for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who himself is a part of his father's legacy.
Marty Brennaman broke into professional play-by-play in 1970 with the Virginia Squires in the old American Basketball Association. He started doing NCAA Tournament regionals in 1987, and has done seven national semifinal games at the Final Four.
That's the highlight of my year, he said. That's something I can look forward to all year.
Most of his greatest moments great for both his professional calls and what they have meant to him have come in a baseball booth: Pete Rose's record-breaking hit, Tom Browning's perfect game, Tom Seaver's no-hitter.
But a few have come on the sidelines of a basketball court, including that Duke-Kentucky game.
I've said many times, good games make you a better broadcaster, Brennaman said. That's an emotional high. You're sorry when a game like that ends. I think with that game, we all knew we had witnessed something special.
Brennaman will certainly be remembered as one of the great Cincinnatians of all time, and one of the greatest Reds ever. He is forever linked to one of the best baseball teams ever, the Big Red Machine. And he will always be known as one of the most independent, opinionated and honest broadcasters in history.
In short, Thom Brennaman says, Marty will be remembered for his passion for the game and the art of calling a game. Nothing bothers Marty more than bad baseball or bad broadcasting.
He has an unbelieveable amount of (passion), Thom said. There aren't a lot of people like that around anymore. When you come upon them, it separates them from the rest of the pack.'
And, Marty will be known for a special on-air partnership and off-air friendship with Joe Nuxhall that has lasted for 27 seasons. They have the most famous tomato gardens in Ohio.
People will remember Marty and Joe as a team more than one or the other their banter about their golf games, their tomatoes, the funny e-mails, said Brennaman's wife, Sherri. They never fight. They just have a special relationship. I don't know if that will ever be equalled.
The whole package, along with the versatility and the respect he carries in the profession and throughout Ohio, makes Brennaman the consummate broadcaster. That's what history is most likely to remember him as other than the Hall of Fame, of course.
If that's what I go down as, I'll certainly be happy with that, he said. I can't imagine anyone in this business wanting anything more.
But if people view me as being an outstanding baseball announcer, that's even better, because it's my profession.
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