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  • Marty Brennaman is a Cincinnati Reds legend who will be retiring at the end of the 2019 season. One time, he gave an unforgettable answer when asked what his greatest fear in life was.
By Gabriel Baumgaertner
January 16, 2019

On Tuesday, longtime Cincinnati Reds announcer Marty Brennaman revealed that he will be retiring after the 2019 season. The 76-year-old veteran has been the voice of Cincinnati since taking over for Al Michaels in 1974 and is one of the most decorated living broadcasters: He received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000, was inducted in the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and has been named Ohio broadcaster of the year 17 times.

While prone to curmudgeonly takes over the years—he once commented that the rules banning home-plate collisions and takeout slides were "legislating [baseball] into a game of sissies" and was a frequent critic of Joey Votto for not hitting for enough power (a statement he softened in 2018)—Brennaman is generally beloved by Reds fans for his affiliation with the franchise for over five decades and his approachability. Tributes from the baseball media arrived immediately. 

One of Brennaman's most endearing qualities was his honesty, even when it produced discomfiting results. During a 2014 segment of "Ask Marty", usually a time for Brennaman to reminisce, offer an opinion or answer a quirky question from a fan, Brennaman delved into the more sinister part of his mind after he was asked what his greatest fear was. I can't imagine color commentator Jeff Brantley knew what was coming.  

Jeff Brantley: Marty, what is your biggest fear in life?

Marty Brennaman: You know what? That's a serious question. That's one that I, uh, would not make light of. Because I think when you reach a certain age in life, maybe there are things that, uh, concern you a bit more than maybe they did when you were younger. One of the big fears I have is dying in a hotel room by myself. That's about as honest as I can be. And the reason I say that ... as the pitch is strike one, on a check-swing that didn't check in time by Ruggiano ... two guys in my profession, Don Drysdale in Montreal and Richie Ashburn in New York City. And I don't think that's the way I want to go.

Brantley: ... I hear you brother.

It's hard to pinpoint the best part of the exchange: That Brenaman is unfazed and comments on a check swing while contemplating his own mortality; that he chose such a brooding topic for a Tuesday night game in June; or maybe because it was ... kind of a great answer? The aging Brennaman cites two examples of baseball legends whose existences prematurely ended in the isolation of a motel—an inglorious setting home to nobody and away from family.

So on the day he announced his retirement, here's to Marty Brennaman, the commentator unafraid to probe the darker, heavier questions of life while watching the Cincinnati Reds.

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