So long, Joe

Joe Nuxhall

Joe Nuxhall,the long-time Cincinnati Reds radio broadcaster, died late Thursday night at the age of 79. Though he started broadcasting years before I was even born, I remember quite fondly listening to Marty Brennaman and Joe call the games on the radio growing up in Cincinnati. One of the greatest tandems of all time, Marty and Joe are icons in the baseball world, having called games for over thirty years. Of course I never met him personally, but everything I’ve read about Joe speaks of how beloved he was by those that knew him, and the thousands who knew only his voice. And that’s precisely why he and Marty were such a great duo–when you listened to them call a game, it was like watching a baseball game with your family. Joe excelled in telling the stories behind the games. You never felt like baseball was a game of celebrities being paid ridiculous sums of money. Joe made the game intimate, personal. Along with Marty, the two built a working friendship that became a personal friendship, and in the later years of their career–the ones I knew so well–it was just two good buddies sharing the love of a game together with all those who cared to listen in.

What I loved about Joe (and Marty) is the personality he had. There’s very little character in the big-time broadcasters who bring us most of the sports we see. And, yes, maybe the men who broadcast now are far superior in their craft, always articulate and nearly perfect in their delivery of the game. But few mastered the art of broadcasting better than the Ol’ Lefthander. His passing reminds me why there will always be a place in my heart for listening to the game on radio, no matter how good it may look in high def. Seeing the game is one thing. Experiencing the game is another. Marty and Joe brought the experience. I loved it when Dad would turn the radio on, and we’d just sit and listen to the games. That was baseball at it’s finest.

Emblazoned on the outside facade of Great American Ballpark is Joe’s signature signoff, “rounding third and heading for home.” Not Anymore, Joe. You made it home. Reds win.