CINCINNATI — Marty Brennaman will broadcast his final Cardinals-Cincinnati game on Sunday afternoon after describing more than 700 meetings between the clubs over his 46 years with the Reds. There will be one more series between the clubs, Aug. 30-Sept. 1 in St. Louis, but Brennaman won’t be there. Included is a day-night doubleheader, on Aug. 31.
The retiring Brennaman laughed and said that doubleheader had nothing to do with his decision not to broadcast that weekend. He and his wife, Amanda, already had plans to take a vacation to Utah and Wyoming.
“That doubleheader was not scheduled when I made my decision,” said Brennaman, referring to the fact a rainout is being made up that day. “But I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say, ‘Better them than me.’
“I can watch it on my phone — if I’m inclined to watch it,” he joked.
Brennaman started with the Reds in 1974, at 31, replacing Al Michaels as the team’s radio voice. A nervous Brennaman, working with veteran Joe Nuxhall, was in Tampa, Fla., for a spring training game to be played at Al Lopez Field and Brennaman signed on, saying, “Welcome to Al Michaels Field.”
It got better. Quickly. In his second and third seasons, Brennaman was broadcasting the Reds’ “Big Red Machine” World Series championship clubs.
There were other good teams Brennaman had, including the 1990 World Series champion Reds — which he said was his favorite.
But those days are gone now and Brennaman laments the game as it should be played is gone, too.
“I’m not as big a fan of the game as I used to be,” Brennaman told the Post-Dispatch this weekend. “And that all factored into my decision. I don’t enjoy watching the game as much I used to. There’s too much standing around. It’s all about home runs, strikeouts and walks. You see very few teams hit and run. Quite honestly, I was impressed Thursday night with how the Cardinals stole bases (they had three, with only hits).
“Why that style escapes the ‘numbers’ guys . . . I don’t understand it. It’s a fun game to watch when the game is played the way you and I have been used to seeing the game played for all these years. But I truly believe — and I may be stupid — that at some point down the road, that pendulum is going to swing back to the middle.”
The Reds have won only one postseason series since 1990 — a division series in 1995.
“I have seen good teams, I’ve seen not-so-good teams, I’ve seen terrible teams and I’ve seen more bad teams than good teams,” Brennaman said. “But, anybody who hangs around as long as I have — if Jack Buck were sitting here, he would say the same thing.”
Brennaman, 77, will be the first broadcaster to be inducted into the Reds’ Hall of Fame next year and he and Buck long have been members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s broadcast wing.
After he calls his final game at the end of next month, Brennaman isn’t likely to watch every game from start to finish. Or many games, at all.
“Somebody told me I’d broadcast between 6,500 and 7,000 baseball games. That’s enough,” he said.
“I’ve got an appearance deal with the club for three years and I’m sure there are times they’re going to want me down here (Great American Ball Park) and I’ll naturally come. But I’m not going to allow this game to dictate how I live my life. I have other interests in life. My wife and I are patrons of the arts. We go to Broadway shows. I’m an avid reader. I read novels all the time. I walk five miles. I’m married to a woman who’s 30 years younger and will not allow me to sit around and do nothing. There are places we want to go and things we want to do.
“We went to Europe last October and I went kicking and screaming. And I had more fun than she did.”
So, a year from now, what will Brennaman be doing?
“Come next year and the Reds and Cardinals are playing a meaningful game and I have plans to go somewhere else . . . I’m not going to change my plans,” he said.