After Cincinnati Reds radio play-by-play broadcaster Marty Brennaman announced he would retire at the end of the 2019 season, the Reds Hall of Fame board of directors momentarily had a dilemma on their hands.
The Reds Hall of Fame bylaws said that only players, managers and executives could be inducted. But Brennaman had been the voice of the Reds for 46 years, been inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame and culminated one of the longest broadcasting careers with one team in MLB history.
So the Reds Hall of Fame’s board of directors changed the rules. This weekend, the Reds are inducting Brennaman as the sole member of the 2021 Reds Hall of Fame class.
“I’m thrilled to be the first broadcaster ever in and to be going in as a stand alone guy, the only player who went in as a stand alone guy was Pete (Rose),” Brennaman said at his induction event on Thursday. “When you’ve been around 46 years and done all the stuff I’ve done, rarely are you overwhelmed about anything. But this thing is a little bit overwhelming.”
According to Rick Walls, the executive director of the Reds Hall of Fame, it only took “about three seconds” to decide to induct Brennaman.
“This was a guy that represented the Reds organization, the voice of the Reds forever, almost a third of the history of professional baseball,” Walls said. “Thinking of that, it was a no-brainer. It was just a matter of how we did it and when we did it.”
This weekend, the Reds are honoring Brennaman by inducting him by himself into the Reds Hall of Fame. On Thursday night, the Reds held a celebratory dinner with Brennaman and the biggest group of alumni to come to Cincinnati for a Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
On Friday, the Reds scheduled an alumni softball game at Great American Ball Park. Reds legends like Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Dave Concepción, Tony Pérez, George Foster and Eric Davis have been a part of the induction weekend for Brennaman.
“He transcends (time), being able to reach from the Big Red Machine up to the time that he retired (in 2019),” Foster said. “The thing is he knows the game. He got a chance to know the players. He’s not up there guessing or making mistakes as far as calling guys’ names because he knows the players.”
Brennaman joined the Reds broadcast booth in 1974, and he called former Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame outfielder Hank Aaron’s 714th home run to tie Babe Ruth’s record. Brennaman then was a part of the Reds consecutive World Series wins in 1975 and 1976 as well as the World Series win in 1990.
In 2000, Brennaman was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He was recognized for his “expressive style and enthusiasm” as well as his trademark call, “This one belongs to the Reds.”
Brennaman retired at the end of the 2019 season, and his career linked MLB legends like Pete Rose with current Reds players like Joey Votto, Jesse Winker and Luis Castillo.
“I don’t know if you can answer what makes someone great at what they do that’s unique,” said former Reds outfielder Eric Davis, who starred on the 1990 World Series team. “It’s his ability to ask the tough questions and call it the way that it is, to challenge guys, to speak the truth and to do it with class and dignity over a long period of time.”
“I don’t know if there’s anybody more deserving for (the Hall of Fame) than Marty Brennaman,” Davis added. “The things that he has meant to not just Cincinnati but to Carolina and where he started, it’s great. And you see the turnout.”