By LARRY VAUGHT
Damn you Marty Brennaman!
I didn’t plan to spend part of my Thursday afternoon crying but that’s exactly what I did when I watched the emotional farewell ceremony after Brennaman called his final game on the radio for the Cincinnati Reds to end his 46-year career in Cincinnati.
I’ve never known anyone else exactly like Marty. I was lucky enough to be around Cawood Ledford for many years at Kentucky and he was a legend behind the microphone. He was always helpful and genuine with me, but his personality was nothing like Brennaman’s.
I got to know Brennaman in the 1970’s when not only were the Cincinnati Reds baseball’s best team, but the Reds also had a caravan that made lengthy stops at various cities. I never missed one in Lexington and they often went late into the night and Brennaman was always holding court.
I got to know him even better when he called University of Kentucky basketball games on the UK TV Network with Larry Conley. They were terrific. But I loved getting to just sit before or after games and listen to Brennaman tell stories.
Marty away from the microphone had a whole different set of words and adjectives he used. I was always amazed at how professional he could be calling a game and how different he was just sitting around and talking. And no one enjoyed telling stories or having fun more than him.
For several years he called NCAA Tournament games on radio and fortunately often he ended up at the same site as UK. I got to have dinner with him and sometimes just talk for hours in his hotel room about life.
I still remember the fun he had making bets with Cats Pause publisher Oscar Combs — and they both still claim the other one owes a box of baseball cards over one bet. He loved working UK games and if given a chance would have taken the UK Radio Network play-by-play job.
Never once did I call him asking for an interview that he did not return a call. Never once did I ask him for something that he didn’t deliver. Never once did he fail to speak to me if he saw me.
He really has a heart of gold and that certainly came through today on his farewell ceremony after the game when fans were allowed on the field and surrounded the stage where Brennaman was.
I don’t have many autographs from anyone but I have two baseball signed by Hall of Famer Marty Brennaman. I also have a photo he once signed for me.
It was no surprise to me that Brennaman was so humble in his farewell. Like Cawood, he considered himself lucky to have so many fans listening to him and never quite understood just how special he was.
LIstening to Brennaman today hit home for a lot of reasons. Maybe at age 67 it’s about time I give up what I do but then again, like he said, the best part of what we do is get to interact with fans. It took Marty a long time to be willing to walk away from a job he loved but he’s done it for all the right reasons and on his terms. That’s something maybe a lot more of us ought to pay attention to.
But the downside here is that so many fans who have never know Cincinnati Reds baseball without Marty are going to have to adjust to not having his unique style on air that in my opinion made him the best ever doing what he did.