As Lance McAllister pointed out recently, our time with Marty Brennaman behind the mic is dwindling inning by inning. That’s good and welcome news for some, and I understand the contrariness. But I’m having trouble imagining the game without him, probably because I do a lot of listening without really listening. It’s nice to have him there, and I’m dreading not having him there.

Which is why we need to consider the idiotic fact that Great American Ball Park is missing something. In large light-up letters rounding third base and heading for home plate, “ROUNDING THIRD AND HEADING FOR HOME” greets the visitor and the welcomes homecomer. It is a lovely, non-commercial, one of a kind, creative tribute to our Joe Nuxhall’s signoff.

Maybe because Joe was a local guy, and a player as well as a broadcaster with an early appearance record that will never be broken, but Marty’s signature phrase, “AND THIS ONE BELONGS TO THE REDS” isn’t where it should be, on the opposing corner.

I had to look this stupidity up to make sure it wasn’t the output of some then-bachelorette lifestyling, but no, it actually happened: In the final stages of the stadium design of Great American Ball Park, Hamilton County officials reportedly blocked Marty’s end of the sign, because, they said, the stadium itself did not belong to the Reds, but the County.

Perhaps this was an excuse generated by anti-Marty forces within the Reds. I certainly hope the reason is  not actually what it was stated to be, because it’s incredibly embarrassing. In every moment of every second I’ve spent as a political science major, I have never seen, heard, or read anything so willfully, spitefully literal.  I believe I remember Marty himself correctly describing this as “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” or something appropriately similar.

That the issue hasn’t been revisited is also asinine. Maybe the team has some sort of eight-foot, 26-letter surprise planned for Marty come October, but this team loves to market itself to itself while admiring itself marketing itself, so I doubt it.

You might make the argument that placing Marty’s signature next to Joe’s might unfairly equate the two, and there are things Joe were that Virginia-born Marty could never be. But when the market zeitgeist is to amplify the personal, install the quirky, and Instagram the area code, why not? And would there be a Joe as we know him without Marty? Or Marty without Joe? Why are they separated?

Is a statue of Brennaman, perhaps, more appropriate? Where are they gonna put it? Next to the eleventy billion in Crosley Terrace (already properly situated to celebrate the team’s more distant past), or by the pavilion with the nine sculpted faces, or the Great 8 bronze littering Second Street even though they’re all already metaled up in the Hall of Fame twice over?

We’re really going to keep pushing with the statues? What about the 1990 team? And the greats to come? Where’s Derek Dietrich’s statue of him staring at his moon shot going to go (beyond, as some brilliant Twitter mind pointed out, facing Pittsburg)? The statues are getting to be like Hitler social media comparisons: They’re everywhere. If everybody gets a statue, nobody gets a statue.

Maybe we get Marty a mosaic in the two blank spaces next to what’s already there inside the ball park, but we need to reserve room for the Puig masterpiece and a four-take, Andy Warhol-style study of Joey Votto trolling various journalists. Nobody’s thinking ahead here.

No, the man who made his mark on this town and this sport with his words should be honored and remembered as such. Light Marty up.

33 Responses

  1. RojoBenjy

    I wasn’t living in Cincinnati at the the time GABP was being built. So I had no idea. Small-minded, graft-filled politics at its worst.

    And this made coffee come out my nose:
    “…this team loves to market itself to itself while admiring itself marketing itself…”

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Now that your sinuses are properly caffeinated, you may begin your day.

  2. Scotly50

    It is not often I must “google” a word on a baseball site, but “zeitgeist” sent me searching.

    I have not listened to Marty, or Joe other than a handful of times. I have always preferred visuals.

    Always look forward to your articles.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Just returning the favor. I always have to look up what BABIP is. Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Matt WI

    Miller Park has a statue of Bob Uecker and already has his name amongst their retired jerseys. For as disenchanted as I’ve grown with Marty over the last decade, he deserves no less than the best treatment for his career with the Reds.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I think that’s fair, although Marty has a lot of catching up to do on his movie career. Uecker wins there.

  4. CFD3000

    I have listened to Marty a few times this year on long car rides and once or twice just because this is the last year that’s an option. He’s cranky and biased for and against certain players. He’s easily distracted, and sometimes hard to listen to. But he was a wonderful play by play broadcaster and half of the heart of Reds broadcasts for, literally, decades. Just as Albert Pujols or King Felix will be remembered for their glory years, and not for struggling as they got older, so should Marty be. And for more than 40 years we’ve all loved hearing that winning phrase. Are we disavowing Johnny Bench because he’s from OK and not OH, or Joey Votto, who isn’t even American? No. I will be very disappointed if the Reds (and the County’s) parting gift to Marty Brennaman is not to immortalize his famous last words.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      This, I think, is a pretty levelheaded assessment. Sometimes I’ll wonder why he’s so cranky if he has so much free ground beef, and then I’ll hear him say–as I did this week–“And the rain continues to beat upon the roof of the dugout” and I’ll realize that Marty at his crankiest is still better than many at their best.

      • Mason Red

        I’ve listened to Marty since he came here and I don’t see him as cranky. But even if he is he deserves the opportunity to be cranky if he wants. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Marty twice in my life. Those opportunities came 25 years apart and Marty was just as gracious the second time I met him as he was the first. As someone lucky enough to grow up during the golden era of the Big Red Machine,Marty and Joe are both just as big and as important to me as Pete Rose,Joe Morgan,Johnny Bench,Tony Perez and all the rest of that great team. I only got to go to 2 or 3 games a year during that era so I followed the Reds like so many by listening to “Marty and Joe on Reds Radio”. Regardless of what those might say here about Marty it won’t change my opinion and I would never say I’m glad he’s going. It means the end of an era and a connection to those glory years when the Reds were THE best franchise in baseball. Because of that he gets a very big pass from me.

    • Lwblogger2

      I couldn’t have said it all better. Well stated and this fan fully agrees.

  5. Brian S Jolley

    If that truly was the real reason, then I have always believed it was one of the dumbest examples of public stupidity in the history of the universe. Obviously, no one seeing that posted would ever consider it meant that the Reds owned the stadium. I say offer to put it up if he will stay one more yea!

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Isn’t it insane? I’m kind of disappointed in ourselves there weren’t riots.

  6. Scott C

    Great piece of writing Mary Beth. Living in Virginia now, I have not listened to Marty on the radio for some time but in my years of living in Cincinnati, Trenton and Findlay I spent countless hours listening to his commentary on the game and loved it when he could say “This one belongs to the Reds!” Also living in Virginia, I can say a little bit about the problem of statues. We have quite a few in Charlottesville as does Richmond. Many were set up to commemorate the ideals of a generation over a hundred years ago, now are no longer politically correct. Now they even want to remove the one of Lewis and Clarke along with Sacagawea. The problem being that Lewis and Clarke are standing and Sacagawea is kneeling. I doubt if the sculptor had any political reason to have Sacagawea kneeling but you have to think these Maybe one day someone will be upset that Pete Rose is sliding and Joe Morgan is standing. BTW I do think they should put up sign in the stadium with “This one belongs to the Reds” It is deserving and should be a good PR move, especially with older folks like me.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thanks! I miss living in VA myself and was excited when I was able to beam in the game every now and then.

  7. Hebron Reds Fan

    Could not agree more that this is a wrong that should be righted–and NOW is the time. I’ve always thought this was petty and stupid by the county–but that is what we have grown to expect from politicians.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      But they’ve redeemed themselves by gifting the city with our much-needed wonderful streetcar!!

  8. CI3J

    I was actually closely following the construction of GABP. I went to old Riverfront many times in the season when the outfield walls were partly torn down and GABP was being built in their place. I was there when Riverfront was demolished.

    That said, it never occurred to me that Joe’s phrase was on the stadium and Marty’s wasn’t, so of course it also never occurred to me to think about why. But I had to read the article posted above to actually believe it.

    The relevant part:

    Brennaman’s trademark call of a Reds victory (“And this one belongs to the Reds!”) was coined during his second game with the team. This same phrase was expected to be placed in lights, outside of the Reds new Great American Ball Park in 2003, but interference from Hamilton County officials nixed the idea, citing that the ballpark “belongs to the taxpayers” and not the Reds.[1] Instead, only Joe Nuxhall’s traditional phrase of “…Rounding third and heading for home.” was used.

    That is simply mind-boggling stupid. How could anyone misconstrue Marty’s phrase to make it seem like the Reds owned GABP? More importantly, WHO CARES? Even if someone did read that and think “Oh, guess the Reds own GAPB” (Nevermind the name “Great American” is right there in the title), who does that hurt? It makes even less sense than season 8 of Game of Thrones.

    I sincerely hope they rectify this situation. Like I said, I never before considered how odd it was that Joe’s catchphrase is on the stadium but Marty’s wasn’t, but now that I realize it, it’s one of those things you can’t un-see. And now that I know the reason behind it, it’s really infuriating.

    Hey, since I mentioned Game of Thrones earlier, how about we start an online petition to get Marty’s name added?

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      1) I’m sorry
      2) It’s the dumbest thing in the world
      3) Especially at the local level, we get exactly what we vote for
      4) I don’t believe the county would have gotten away with this in 2019. The FB outrage alone would sink a battleship.

      • RojoBenjy

        You’re right. It was pre-social media.

        Cincinnati local politics is and has largely been for decades greedy, vindictive, and petty.

    • Doc

      And yet, the ball park is home for the Reds, not for Hamilton County, nor anyone else. What else would one expect from career politicians? Why not put it to a vote of those taxpayers who own the stadium and let them decide, or would that be too logical for a politician to contemplate or understand?

  9. matthew hendley

    Definatly should have the Phrase attached. Noone in their right mind would really think that ‘the reds’ own GABP.
    A statue wouldn’t hurt either

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Right? I couldn’t believe it when I heard it and when I reflected on the reason they gave this week, I honestly thought to myself, “I must have gotten it confused. That cannot have been the reason.”

      Nope. That was the reason.

  10. Pablo

    Yes, I remember this dumb reason given back in the days of construction and thought it was ridiculous then. But we’re dealing with politicians. Big Bob surely has the power to get this rectified now, right? No taxpayer is going to care. The phrase belongs to all of us now and should live on beyond the PHFB’s retirement.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Exactly. I’m kind of surprised this didn’t happen earlier, but I guess they were hoping we all forgot about it.

      Well, we DIDN’T. I remember all the words to “Pac Man Fever.”

      THAT’S who they’re dealing with here.

  11. Mark Moore

    Great remembrance of the Old Left-hander … so many games via my AM radio when I could catch the signal.

    True that, despite any railing about the “crabby old man”, Marty is the voice of the Reds for at least a generation. Put up the sign and don’t whine about it! It’s what we do.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I’m grateful my nephews have had at least a few years of the experience their great-grandparents on down did!

  12. Darren Ellis

    It’s ironic to hear people whining about Marty’s whining. just saying

  13. vegastypo

    The Reds have their actual owners, but baseball in Cincinnati has always existed as a bit of a ‘public trust’ to me, ‘belonging’ to the fans on their level as much as to the owners on a literal level. Long, long ago, the Reds’ home ballpark was actually called Palace of the Fans. … When a franchise changes cities, it’s always a brutal reminder that, no, fans don’t own anything, despite the money and time they invest.

    To keep that quote from being displayed over who actually owns the joint is, as someone above said, petty.

    Thanks for the thoughts, Mary Beth.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      This is an excellent point, one I was rather rudely reminded of when a small clutch of nuns in North Carolina shut down my century-old high school sight unseen. We protect what’s ours, even when it’s not really ours.

  14. Jim

    Enjoyed your article. I would love if after Marty’s retirement they started playing the audio of him saying “And this one belongs to the Reds” after every win at GABP.

  15. RojoBenjy

    Let’s take to Twitter and Facebook.