It was spring training 1974, and Kim Nuxhall, Joe Nuxhall’s youngest son, wanted to meet Marty Brennaman, the newest play-by-play voice of the Cincinnati Reds.
So Kim Nuxhall, 20 at the time, sat in the broadcast booth at Al Lopez Field in Tampa, just a few feet from his dad and his dad’s radio partner, who was replacing Al Michaels.
Brennaman had a youthful, booming voice, and what he said that first day still makes Nuxhall laugh today.
“Welcome to Al Michaels Field,” Brennaman said.
The engineer, shocked by the mistake, took off his headset and looked at Brennaman in disbelief. Joe Nuxhall, meanwhile, had fallen off his chair and was rolling on the floor.
“Dad never let him live that one down,” Nuxhall said.
Brennaman and Nuxhall, known lovingly to Reds fans as “Marty and Joe,” broadcast Cincinnati games together full-time from 1974 to 2003. Nuxhall died four years later.
And today, in an afternoon game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park, Brennaman will make his final appearance behind a microphone. He’s not traveling with the Reds this weekend to Pittsburgh.
“This is the end of the chapter, the book,” Nuxhall said. “This will be one of the most-listened-to broadcasts in Reds history.”
Brennaman has said today will be “the hardest day of my life.”
That pain also will be felt by the Nuxhall family: Kim, 65, his brother, Phil, 68, and their mother, Donzetta, 91.
“It’s gonna be a sad day,” Nuxhall said. “Marty really will struggle with that one.”
When asked what today’s final broadcast will mean to the Nuxhall family, he said, “It’s an end of an iconic era. There won’t be any ‘Marty and Joe’ combinations for a long time.”
Nuxhall said Brennaman and his father made the perfect radio team. They talked baseball, but also discussed everyday life like their gardens to their golf games., topics that resonated with listeners.
“It was a marriage,” Nuxhall said. “Dad had Mom and he had Marty. A baseball marriage and the personal marriage.”
Kim Nuxhall said he will always cherish those moments he spent with his dad and Brennaman. He loved listening to the stories they shared in between innings, in the hotel lounge after the games and while playing golf with them on the road.
“As a kid, holy cow, it was the best of both worlds,” Nuxhall said. “On the field with the players and off the field with dad and Marty. Dad and Mary and some of the ballplayers were great storytellers. Hanging out in the booth and watching them do their thing. It was a good life.”
For years, Brennaman called golf the “dumbest game on earth” as his radio partner constantly told golf stories. Then, Brennaman started playing golf and became “more obsessed with it than dad,” Nuxhall said.
Throughout the years, Nuxhall said his father — and he’s sure Brennaman did too — received letters from appreciative listeners, especially those who were visually impaired or unable to attend a game.
“They painted the pictures for that person,” he said. “That stuck with dad and I’m sure it did with Marty.”
In the 12 years since Nuxhall’s death, the two families have remained in contact. In fact, when the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League in Fairfield opens its miniature golf course on Oct. 5, Brennaman is expected to make an appearance.
Nuxhall said he certainly understands why Brennaman is stepping down now. He’s 77 and he knows there’s more to life than broadcasting baseball games. He saw how Nuxhall’s health failed toward the end of his career, cutting short his retirement and travel plans.
“He wants to go out healthy,” Nuxhall said. “I’m happy for him.”
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.