In 1974, Marty Brennaman arrived in Cincinnati and told it as he saw it for 46 seasons.
From the closing of one stadium to the opening of another and from seasons of triumph to seasons of malaise, Marty was considered the voice of reason, respected by the baseball faithful for his candidness and honesty. He never shaded what he witnessed on the field.
His baseball address never changed either. Through nine presidents, from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump, Cincinnati was his home. He never worked for another Big League club.
When he signed off, he did so with his voice quivering, uttering the emotions that he was wearing on his sleeve. “This city… Once they decide that you are one of theirs, you can call them the vilest names in the world. But the guy standing next to you can’t. They’re very protective of those who are one of them.”
Of the 43 Ford Frick winners, only eight worked for just one team through their entire careers. Two were Hispanic voices, Jaime Jarrin, 61 seasons with the Dodgers and Felo Ramirez, 15 with the Marlins. Of the English voices, there are Vin Scully and his incomparable 67 with the Dodgers, the Royals’ Denny Matthews, 51, the Brewers’ Bob Uecker, 49, the late Jack Buck, 46 with the Cards, the late Bob Wolff, 15, and Brennaman. Matthews and Uecker are still at it.
It’s an astounding feat, emblematic of excellence, durability and acceptance.
Over the course of his career, Brenneman, who just retired, called three Reds’ World Series victories (’75, ’76, ’90), milestone home runs by Hank Aaron (No. 714, tying Ruth) and Ken Griffey Jr. (Nos. 500 and 600), four no-hitters and a perfect game. For listeners of his generation, Brennaman’s voice is indelible.
Dodgers’ fans were fortunate to hear Scully’s mellifluous voice on-air, first in Brooklyn and then in Los Angeles. Vin too signed off memorably. His voice never cracked as he did, which must have required some strong willpower.
“You and I have been friends for a long time. I know in my heart that I’ve always needed you more than you’ve ever needed me, and I’ll miss our time together more than I can say. But you know what? There will be a new day and eventually a new year. And when the upcoming winter gives way to spring, rest assured, once again it will be ‘Time for Dodger baseball,’” Vin’s signature open.
The other Frick winners, from the first two in 1978, Red Barber and Mel Allen, to the last this past July, Al Helfer, worked for more than one team.
So, from 1-25, the top broadcasters who earned their stripes as one team thoroughbreds.
1) Vin Scully* Dodgers 67 ; Greatest sports announcer ever, Biggest sports figure ever in Los Angeles
2) Bob Uecker* Brewers 49; Wears beautifully; funny, crisp, fresh and Wisconsin native
3) Jack Buck* Cardinals 46; ‘This is a winner,’ 3 separate tenures, Mr. St. Louis, bigger than Caray
4) Marty Brennaman* Reds 46; Most powerful baseball man in town. When he talks everyone still listens
5) Phil Rizzuto Yankees 40; Holy Cow! Has it been that long, Cora wants me home, I’m going!
6) Denny Matthews* Royals 51; Longest tenured American League broadcaster ever
7) Mike Shannon Cards 48; Continues to rasp in St. Louis where he’s beloved as both voice and ex-player
8) Eric Nadel* Rangers 41; Conversational, breezy, voice of hot Texas summers
9) Skip Caray Braves 32; warped humor, cynical, funny, distinct voice, Harry’s son
10) Tom Hamilton Indians 30; Cheerleader, paints picture, synonymous with team
11) Jerry Howarth Toronto 38; Came quietly, left quality, disciple of Russ Hodges, earned stripes by fans
12) Monte Moore A’s 24 ; Survived Finley in Kansas City and Oakland, worked 3 A’s World Series on NBC
13) Ernie Johnson Sr. Braves 38; Class act like son, Ernie Jr. Evolved from pitching mound to broadcast booth
14) Ned Martin Red Sox 32; Erudite, easygoing call, comfortable on both TV and radio
15) Jaime Jarrin* (Dodgers- Spanish) 61; Serving smaller SoCal constituency and popularly so
16) Joe Nuxhall Reds 40; “This is the old left-hander rounding 3d and coming home.”
17) Rosey Rowswell Pirates 19; a character nonpareil. Homers: “Raise the window, Aunt Minnie. Here it comes.”
18) Waite Hoyt Reds 24; storyteller galore, fans hoped for rain delays and the Hall of Famer’s tales
19) George Kell Tigers 37; Big voice, ex-player, Tigers radio and TVer, short time partner of Harwell and later Kaline
20) Bill King* A’s 25; Holy Toledo, his signature line is now up in bright lights on the outfield wall
21) Earl Gillespie Braves 11; heart and soul of Milwaukee, cut ties when word was out that team was Atlanta bound
22) Bill White Yankees 18; “Hey White,” Rizzuto would screech. The two had fun together, so did listeners
23) Pete Van Wieren Braves 33; Understated, soft spoken, underrated and an easy listen
24) Jerry Doggett Dodgers 32; Scully said that without Jerry, the two-man Dodgers’ booth would never have worked
25) Bob Wolff* Senators 15; Howlin’ Bob in DC: First in war, first in peace, last in the American League
Team announcers who are Hall of Fame Frick winners and who worked for more than one club:
Mel Allen* (Yankees, Giants, Braves, Indians)
Red Barber* (Dodgers, Yankees, Reds)
Jack Brickhouse* (Cubs, White Sox, Giants)
Buck Canel* (Hispanic Yankees, Mets and Dodgers)
Herb Carneal* (Twins, Orioles)
Harry Caray *(Cubs, Cards, White Sox, A’s)
Tom Cheek* (Blue Jays, Expos)
Jerry Coleman* (Padres, Yankees)
Jimmy Dudley* (Indians, Pilots)
Bob Elson* (White Sox, A’s)
Gene Elston* (Astros, Cubs)
Dick Enberg* (Angels, Padres)
Joe Garagiola* (Yankees, Cardinals)
Curt Gowdy* (Red Sox, Yankees)
Milo Hamilton* (Cards, White Sox, Cubs, Pirates, Braves, Astros)
Ernie Harwell* (Tigers, Dodgers, Giants, Orioles)
Al Helfer* (Dodgers, Colt 45s, A’s, Yankees, Reds +)
Russ Hodges* (Giants, Yankees)
Harry Kalas* (Phils, Astros)
Tony Kubek* (Yankees, Blue Jays)
Tim McCarver* (Phils, Mets, Cardinals)
Jon Miller* (Giants, Red Sox, Rangers, A’s, Orioles)
Bob Murphy* (Mets, Orioles, Red Sox)
Lindsey Nelson* (Mets, Giants)
Dave Niehaus* (Mariners, Angels)
Bob Prince* (Pirates, Astros)
Felo Ramirez* (Marlins; For 58 of his 72 years on-air, he broadcast sports carried out of the country)
By Saam* (Phils, Athletics)
Lon Simmons* (A’s, Giants)
Chuck Thompson* (Orioles, Senators)
Dave Van Horne* (Expos, Marlins)
*Winners of Ford Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting, bestowed by the National Baseball Hall of Fame