Re: Joe Nuxhall Passes Away
Marty: 'It's been special'
BY JOHN FAY
Marty Brennaman’s last time with Joe Nuxhall was like so many others – a little golf, a lot of gags.
Brennaman and Nuxhall played a charity golf match at Kenwood Country Club just before Brennaman left on a cruise. Brennaman was in the middle of the Pacific when he got word that his long-time partner had died. That made him grateful for the last day on the golf course.
“It was apparent that he was weak and not feeling well. I think he only swung the club about five times. I said, 'Joe, you need to go home.' He said, 'No, it's a beautiful day. I'm tired of laying around.' So he rode along the whole round. He laughed and joked. I feel blessed that I had a chance to spend that time together."
Oh, the times they had together. Brennaman and Nuxhall spend 31 years calling Reds games on the radio.
“In the 31 years we worked together doing 162 games, I don’t think there was more three or four times when we ever got mad at each other,” Brennaman said.
Then he corrects himself.
“I really can’t think of one time we stayed mad for any length of time,” Brennaman said. “It’s been special since Day 1.”
Day 1 was in 1974. Brennaman was hired to replace Al Michaels as the Reds’ lead radio voice. It was Brennaman’s first big league job.
“I met Joe in a photo studio in Dayton, Ohio,” Brennaman said. “The first thing I said to him is: ‘I’ve got your baseball card.’”
Nuxhall and Brennaman would be teamed together from ’74 to 2004, when Nuxhall was pushed into a part-time role. When you add spring training games, the two worked over 5,500 games together.
From the start, Nuxhall made Brennaman feel comfortable and showed him how to be a big leaguer.
“He was great to me, which meant whole lot,” Brennaman said. “He taught how to treat the fans from Day 1, how you have to be on 24/7, how to extend respect and attention fans deserves.”
The relationship was always good, but it got better in 1995 when Brennaman took up golf.
“We talked the other day about all the good times we had together playing golf on the road,” Brennaman said.
When Greg Hoard wrote Nuxhall’s biography, he compared to Marty and Joe as “an old married couple.”
Brennaman had no problems with the analogy.
“It’s pretty accurate,” he said. “One of us will be talking and we’ll stop, and the other will finish the sentence.”
Brennaman says you cannot overestimate Nuxhall’s place in the local sports echelon.
“With all due respect to all great sports figures in this area, no one is as widely loved as Joe,” Brennaman said. “People talk about Pete Rose. He isn’t even in Joe’s class.”
“It’s unbelievable. I’ve been blessed to have known him and work with him all these years.”
Brennaman has a great relationship with his current partners – his son, Thom, and Jeff Brantley – but it’s not quite the same.
“I’ll never have a new relationship – as good as it is with Thom and Jeff – to equal that one. The relationship has been incredible.”
And, Brennaman says, his old partner was one incredible man.
“I’ve never had one person say a negative thing about him,” Brennaman said. “I don’t care how good a person you are -- somebody is going to have something bad to say about you. But through all my travels in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, I never had anyone say anything negative about him.
“The way he related to people was just outstanding. He put everyone at ease.”