Hall of Fame Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman announced Wednesday he plans to retire after the coming season, his 46th with the team.
Cubs fans may know Brennaman, 76, best as father of Thom Brennaman, 55, who called Cubs games from 1990-95 and is now a fellow Reds broadcaster among other responsibilities.
Cubs fans also may recall when the elder Brennaman called them in April 2008 “far and away the most obnoxious fans in baseball in this league.”
Marty Brennaman was hired by the Reds at age 31 as successor to Al Michaels, who moved on to the Giants en route to national success.
This week Brennaman was named Ohio Sportscaster of the Year for a 17th time. He received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000 and was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame five years later.
What triggered his 2008 on-air outburst against Cubs fans was the response to an eighth-inning home run to right by the Reds’ Adam Dunn in what would be a 12-3 Cubs rout at Wrigley Field.
The ball, which landed on Sheffield Avenue, was thrown back onto the field, per tradition. That was followed by fans in the bleachers throwing more than a dozen balls collected during batting practice onto the field as well. Eight spectators eventually were ejected.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella laughed as he noted some of the fans “may have had a few more cocktails before they came to the ballpark” and how hard they scrap to get batting practice balls only to throw them away.
Brennaman was not so amused.
“This is the kind of thing, quite honestly, right now, that makes you want to see this Chicago Cubs team lose,” Brennaman told listeners. “Far and away the most obnoxious fans in baseball in this league are those who follow this team right here. Throwing 15 or 18 balls onto the field, there’s absolutely no excuse for that, and that is so typical of Chicago Cub fans. It’s unbelievable.”
His broadcast partner contended that the Wrigley tradition of throwing back opposing players’ actual home run balls was all right.
“Great,” Brennaman said, then continued his rant.
“You simply root against them,” Brennaman said. “I’ve said all winter, they talk about this team winning the division. … They won’t win it because they still are the Chicago Cubs. And they will figure out a way to screw this whole thing up.”
The 2008 Cubs (97-64) did win the National League Central but were swept out of the playoffs in three games by the Dodgers (84-78). The ‘08 Reds (74-88) finished fifth of six teams in the division.
In an April 2016 interview with the The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., Brennaman said Cubs fans were “fine with me now. No problems. But back then, the people from Major League Baseball said they needed to talk to me about ensuring my security when I went back into Chicago.”
Recalling the incident at Wrigley, he told the newspaper, “the fans threw something like 40 balls out of the stands,” which is “the kind of a thing, quite honestly, that makes you want to see the Cubs lose.”