09/19/2002 4:52 pm ET
Marty & Joe reflect on Cinergy Field
Legendary Reds broadcasters share memories
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall, the Cincinnati Reds' broadcast team for more than 25 years, remained true to their characters as they contemplated this weekend's closing of Cinergy Field.
Brennaman, who always succeeds at making himself understood, was typically clear -- and candid -- about his feelings.
"I will definitely miss it," said Brennaman, the lead play-by-play announcer on Reds radio broadcasts for 29 seasons. "And I realize, as everybody who can see knows, that aesthetically, it's not a beautiful ballpark. It's a cookie-cutter ballpark, out of the same mold as Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. But, for me, personally, that's the only home I've known since I came into the big leagues in 1974 ...
"By nature, I'm not nostalgic or overly emotional. But I think probably the last three days in that ballpark, I will be, because of all the great teams I've talked about and the great players and moments that have occurred there since I've been there."
Nuxhall, who pitched for the Reds and maintains his allegiance to them on the air, sounded like the ex-ballplayer he is -- eager for the next game and the prospect of success.
"The year they moved into Riverfront (1970), they were in the World Series. Within five years, they were World Champions," Nuxhall said. "You hope that kind of thing will prevail at the new park."
Through an association that has spanned four calendar decades, Brennaman and Nuxhall have forged indelible memories at Cinergy Field, formerly known as Riverfront Stadium. For Brennaman, who received the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award in 2000, Pete Rose's record-breaking 4,192nd hit on Sept. 11, 1985, tops the list.
"Simply because, number one, of the inevitability of it," Brennaman said. "We knew it was going to happen. It was just a question of when and against who. Secondly, when you know it's going to happen, you then try to determine in your own mind how big it's going to be. However big I thought it was, it was 10 times bigger."
Nuxhall's most enduring Riverfront/Cinergy moment was Tom Browning's perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 16, 1988.
"Other things were good -- Pete's hit, the sellout in three or four hours against the Mets (for the 1999 Wild Card playoff game) -- but I never dreamed that there'd ever be a perfect game pitched in the history of the Reds," Nuxhall said. "It's the oldest franchise in baseball, but that was the first one."
Nuxhall even has categorized his memories to a certain extent. Without prompting, he recalled that one of the worst days he spent at Cinergy was April 1, 1996, when umpire John McSherry collapsed from a heart attack and died. One of the "ugliest" days, Nuxhall recalled, came in 1973, when shortstop Davey Concepcion dislocated an ankle. And perhaps the most rewarding year, he said, was 1990, when a lightly regarded Reds team led the National League West wire-to-wire and won the World Series.
"That was quite an accomplishment," Nuxhall said. "We had some successes in the old joint."
They also had fun. Brennaman, who often fields phone calls from fans with Nuxhall during rain delays, will always remember hearing from comedian Jonathan Winters, a Springfield, Ohio, native, during one stoppage in play.
"It was the most hilarious night we ever spent there," Brennaman said. "He adopted the persona of a retired Major League pitcher by the name of Whip Willis, who owned and went bankrupt with a huge chicken farm. It was an absolute riot."
It blended with the layers upon layers of experiences that helped time pass so richly at the stadium.
"No matter how many more years I'm around and working out of Great American Ball Park," said Brennaman, "I'll always reflect on the 29 years I spent at Riverfront Stadium and how meaningful they were to me."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.