FAIRFIELD — The Nuxhall family has made a worldwide impact on baseball and broadcasting for decades, and for those in Cincinnati, and even closer to the heart and home in Hamilton and Fairfield, the community is grateful for the difference the family has made locally. The stories of their lives, starting with the famous left-handed pitcher Joe Nuxhall, has changed many individuals for the better.
The Fairfield Lane Library will offer a rare opportunity to hear some of those stories and learn more about the legacy of the baseball and broadcasting legend, Joe Nuxhall and his loving, supportive wife, Donzetta, their children, Phil and Kim (and his wife, Bonnie), and the tremendous contribution the entire family has made to the local community with a program that will be held on Saturday titled, “Hamilton Joe: Let’s Talk About Joe Nuxhall.”
John Kiesewetter, a Fairfield resident and author of “Joe Nuxhall: The Old Lefthander & Me – My Conversations With Joe Nuxhall About The Reds, Baseball & Radio,” will be at the Fairfield Lane Library from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday to honor and celebrate Joe, Donzetta, their birthdays and the family’s legacy with a book talk and signing. The program is free and open to all ages.
“I was really impressed with Joe and the subject matter being so popular, and the legacy of Joe Nuxhall in our community. Plus, we have an opportunity to present a local author. John is a resident here in Fairfield. So, I thought, this is a perfect fit for a library program,” said Valerie Simmons, branch manager of Fairfield Lane Library.
The program is part of Fairfield Lane Library’s summer reading program for all ages.
“What’s exciting about the July 30 date is that is Joe Nuxhall’s birthday. He would be 94 on July 30 this year. So, it’s a significant date which coincides with the book signing and talk,” Simmons said.
The program will be in the Fairfield Lane Library’s meeting room. There will be a presentation about the book, followed by a book sale and signing. The talk will last from 2 to 3 p.m. and the book signing will run from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“Joe Nuxhall: The Old Lefthander & Me” is filled with some of Nuxhall’s favorite stories from six decades as a Cincinnati Reds player and as a beloved radio broadcaster. The book includes many of the popular stories that Nuxhall told to different groups and service clubs. These stories offer insight on his teammates, his playing days and 31-year partnership with Marty Brennaman as well as the Reds stars, he watched from the broadcasting booth.
“The genesis for the book was to collect these great, funny stories that Joe would tell, usually at speaking appearances,” said John Kiesewetter, author. “I thought, I need to collect them, prize them, and preserve them, and pass them on to the next generation of Reds fans.”
In authoring the book, he drew from lengthy interviews he did with Nuxhall over a 21-year span. He included stories from conversations with Brennaman, and interviews with Cincinnati Reds players such as Johnny Bench, George Foster and Tom Browning as well as clubhouse manager Rick Stowe, and the late baseball icons Jim O’Toole and Ed Bailey, to name a few.
“I wanted to get some of their stories about Joe and their take on how important Joe was to the Cincinnati Reds franchise,” he said.
Additionally, there are notable stories from George Clooney (about his Reds tryout in 1977), Pete Rose, Jonathan Winters, David Letterman, Lou Piniella, Marge Schott, Bob Trumpy, and legendary broadcasters like Al Michaels and Red Barber, among others.
The book includes chapters about pranks Marty and Joe played on each other in the broadcasting booth; their Kroger commercials and the instances when their three-decade partnership could have ended prematurely.
“My favorite chapter is probably the one about all the pranks they played on each other in the booth,” Kiesewetter said.
Other chapters cover Nuxhall’s pregame and postgame interviews; his pitching and hitting accomplishments; and his legacy, including Fairfield’s Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields, where more than 200 players with every challenge, from ages 4 to 78, get every chance to play, and the Joe Nuxhall Memorial Scholarship Fund, which has awarded more than $900,000 in scholarships to high school seniors since 1985.
Kiesewetter was 8-years-old in 1961, when the Reds were in the World Series, and that’s really when he became a serious Reds fan as a kid in Middletown.
I tell this story many times…”I was lefthanded, Joe was lefthanded. We were both from Butler County. He was my favorite player,” he said.
Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working at Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015. The book, “Joe Nuxhall: The Old Lefthander and Me” released in Sept. of 2021.
Copies will be available for purchase at the library on Saturday or they can be purchased at Joseph-Beth Booksellers; Reds Hall of Fame gift shop; Roebling Point Books; and on Amazon. The cost of the book is $20, paid by cash or check at the library event, and $1 from each book sold will be donated to The Nuxhall Foundation.
Joe was born in Hamilton on July 30, 1928. and Donzetta was born on Aug. 2, 1928, in Jellico, Kentucky. Donzetta passed away on Thurs., July 21. She was nearly 94.
“This Saturday, on Nuxy’s birthday, I thought it would be nice to do a presentation on ‘The Old Lefthander, Donzetta and Me,’ and talk about what a sweet woman she was. Everybody knows about Joe, but she was always in the background. So, I thought this would be an opportunity to tell some of Joe’s favorite stories, and some of my favorite stories about Donzetta as well,” Kiesewetter said.
“The first time I interviewed Joe, it was in 1986 at their home in Fairfield. It was the two of them, sitting around their kitchen table,” he said.
“She was as kind and considerate and as willing to be helpful as Joe was. In that way, they were very much alike. Although Joe was the public half of the duo. She was happy to be in the background. She focused a lot on the family and raising their two sons, because as a ball player or as a broadcaster, if the Reds played 162 games a year, half of them were on the road, Kiesewetter said.
Joe and Donzetta met at LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park in 1946, two years after Joe’s historic 1944 Major League Baseball pitching debut for the Cincinnati Reds at age 15. The family moved from Hamilton to Fairfield in 1957.
Donzetta was surrounded by family at her final resting place in a private burial on July 25 — as she was placed beside Joe at The Rose Hill Cemetery in Hamilton. When Joe passed in 2007 at age 79, the couple had been married for 60 years. The Nuxhall family has continued to make a lasting impact in Southwest Ohio.
The Fairfield Lane Library is located at 1485 Corydale Drive. For more information about this and other programs at the Lane Libraries, call (513) 858-3238, or visit the Lane website at www.lanepl.org.
To purchase a copy of Kiesewetter’s book, go to www.tvkiese.com.