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OnBaseMachine
04-01-2008, 12:54 AM
I still can't believe Joe is gone. That's all I could think about during the pre-game ceremonies today - it just doesn't seem possible that Joe is no longer with us.

Nuxhall remains 'special guy' to Reds
Team pays tribute to late broadcaster and pitcher
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By Tom Archdeacon

Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

CINCINNATI Afterward, they all spoke from the heart about the loss. Not the one on the field, Arizona's 4-2 victory over Cincinnati in the season opener at Great American Ball Park on Monday, March 31. That was just a game and they were talking about something far bigger:

The death of the ''Ol' Left-Hander'' Joe Nuxhall former player, longtime broadcaster, a Cincinnati Red for 64 of his 79 years from a series of ailments last November.

"A legacy," Reds starting pitcher Aaron Harang called him.

"Everybody loved him," third baseman Edwin Encarnacion whispered.

That's why the Reds players and coaches took the field during pregame introductions and stood side by side along the first base line, each wearing a jersey with No. 41 and NUXHALL on the back.

Although they'd soon switch to their regular shirts, Harang wore No. 41 all game. "All of us wearing his jersey was just beautiful, man. It was gorgeous," second baseman Brandon Phillips said. "Of everything that happened on Opening Day, that was the best. I was very honored to do that. I hope someone took a picture. I really want to see what it looked like from the stands."

Nuxhall is being honored in many ways, but nothing warmed your heart the way the Reds did Monday. Not just by what they wore, but what they said.

Some suggested Ken Griffey Jr. had been instrumental in the jersey tribute. The right fielder talked about hanging out around the team when he was a kid and how Nuxhall teased him. And later, when he returned as the much-hyped star, Griffey said it was Nuxhall who pulled him aside when he struggled, assuring him he could play and to "just go out and have fun."

Every player had a Nuxhall memory. "He called me The Cruise Director," said Phillips, who told how Nuxhall once coaxed him to join him on the Reds' fans cruise. "Everyone really loved me and afterward (Joe) was like 'Brandon, I want you to go all the time ...' It was a beautiful thing to be on that cruise with him ... I'm gonna make sure I go on all the cruises just because of him."

Left fielder Adam Dunn felt the Nuxhall embrace, as well:

"He was the easiest person to talk to. He was always the same to you whether you were doing good or you were stinking. He'd make sure to tell you a story, pat you on the back and tell you it was gonna be alright."

Yet, there was a difference between Nuxhall and many ex-ballplayers, said first baseman Scott Hatteberg:

"A lot of guys come in here and they had great careers and there's an air about them. Not him. This guy was at home in the locker room. Everybody ... was family to him.

"He was one of those guys you really, really respected and admired. That's why today was cool from our perspective, and I hope everybody else thought it was cool, too. For us, it was a heartfelt thing.

"What he went through the last years (health-wise) and yet he'd still come in here and be the same guy there's a real strength to that. Something I envy, something a lot of people don't possess. He was just a special, special guy and he deserved a special day."

Monday, he got it.

On deck

Opening Day didn't work out so well for the Reds, but it's only one game right? The Reds are off today, but here's what's coming up:

Wednesday: Guitar-playing pitcher Bronson Arroyo tries to put last year's bad karma behind when he takes the mound against Arizona's big offseason pickup, Dan Haren. 7:10 p.m. (FSN).

Thursday: We get to see if Johnny Cueto lives up to the hype. The former Dragon makes his big-league pitching debut, and if you want to see it, you'll have to skip work. 12:35 p.m. (no TV).

Friday-Monday: The Phillies come to Great American Ball Park for a four-game series. Two more new faces on the mound for the Reds: Josh Fogg on Friday (7:10, FSN), Edinson Volquez on Sunday (1:15, FSN).

http://www.daytondailynews.com/s/content/oh/story/sports/pro/reds/2008/03/31/ddn040108arch.html