Iconic Brennaman inducted into Reds HOF 

August 28th, 2021

CINCINNATI – A 75-minute rain delay wasn’t about to deter the thousands of fans who turned out on a stormy Friday night at Great American Ball Park to honor a legendary broadcaster who spent 46 years as the iconic voice of baseball’s first professional franchise.

And Marty Brennaman felt obliged to return the favor to those fans who showed up to watch as the Cincinnati Reds broadcaster from 1974-2019 was officially inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame.

“I love you folks,” Brennaman said at the end of his 21-minute address. “I appreciate your acceptance 48 years ago. God bless all you. This is a big thrill for me.”

Reds officials estimated that 5,000 fans turned out for the ceremony, which was initially announced on Aug. 16, 2019, six weeks before his final broadcast. The ceremony was originally planned for April 26, 2020 before the pandemic pushed it to 2021.

The 79-year-old Brennaman spent more than half a lifetime providing countless big thrills for Reds fans of three distinct eras, the Big Red Machine, the 90s and the more recent 2010-era Reds, led most prominently by Joey Votto.

Brennaman already has a place in Cooperstown, as he won the Ford C. Frick award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000 and also has spots in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and the National Radio Hall of Fame. But Friday was different to Brennaman.

“Of all the halls of fame I’ve been able to go into, this is number one for me,” Brennaman declared to the crowd.

Why?

“It’s better than that because I’m here tonight talking to my people. I’m talking to Cincinnati people,” said Brennaman.

In receiving his plaque and adorning the red Hall of Fame blazer for the first time, Brennaman became the first inductee to enter as the lone member of his class, literally taking his place in a class all by himself.

“Marty would always give you his honest opinion,” said Dan Driessen who took over for Tony Perez at first base in 1977. “If you ask him a question, he’ll answer it. You can take it or leave it. He’s been fair over the years and the people came to like that honesty. And he’s a good guy.

“Marty is a true professional. He called the game right. He did his homework, too. He’ll ask you honest questions and a lot of our guys, Pete [Rose] and Joe [Morgan], they were buddies. But he would ask them tough questions, too.”

Nearly 40 former Reds players returned to town, including Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Barry Larkin. Most of them took part in the legends softball game following the induction ceremony.

“These guys here are what it’s all about,” Brennaman said, pointing to several members of the 1975-76 and 1990 World Series title teams. “There are guys here that would have me killed and I understand that. But I never lost respect for the fact that you guys played the hardest sport well that there was to play. I don’t care about football. I don’t care about basketball. I care about baseball, and you guys took it to another level. God bless you for that, and I thank God that I was around to watch you play baseball.

“And I was accepted by people like Sparky Anderson and Johnny Bench and Tony Perez and Joe Morgan and Pete Rose and Davey Concepcion and Cesar Geronimo and all those guys. They didn’t have to accept me, but they did, and they made my coming to replace Al [Michaels] a whole lot easier than it might have been.”

And he confirmed what has been often reported through media circles.

“With all due respect to the Big Red Machine, the greatest team I’ve ever been associated with, that 1990 club was my favorite team of all time,” Brennaman said. “With Eric [Davis] and Barry [Larkin] and all the rest of the guys, Jose [Rijo], Randy Myers and the Nasty Boys, it was a team that transcended everything, whether you were white, whether you were African American, whether you were Latin American, everybody had everybody’s back. Everybody loved each other. And it was such a fun team to watch play.”

As great as Brennaman has always been with words, he has been even bigger with his deeds to the people in the town he has called home ever since Henry Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s home run record of 714 on April 4, 1974, his first game in the booth with the Reds.

And on Friday, after taking pictures with his family next to his new plaque, he took pictures with fans as a line of patrons Friday lined up to pose with him.

“After 46 years, it was over with, and I mean it went by like that. And the opportunity to stay here over the years was so important to me because I had ample opportunity to leave,” Brennaman said. “And every time I had the opportunity to make the decision to stay here, it was always about liking where I was, raising kids and loving the city of Cincinnati and loving all you people.”