As I write this, Marty Brennaman is calling his last baseball game as the Cincinnati Reds’ play-by-play announcer.
It is a job he has held for 45 years.
I’ve never met the man. Nor have I heard him do his job for more than one inning. Listening to a slow-paced game on the radio just isn’t my thing. Yet, I’m simultaneously invigorated by his life and saddened by his departure from the booth.
Men who put their head down and go about their jobs day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, are a dying breed. A major league play-by-play job sounds glamorous. Many would think a pastor of a megachurch sounds glamorous as well. I promise you, your job also sounds glamorous to someone else working in another industry. No matter what our day jobs are, we fight the fight of monotony every day.
In February 2000, Reds fans were celebrating as the most promising talent in the entire league was coming to Cincinnati. A son of a former Reds great was coming home to usher in a new era for the Big Red Machine. Ken Griffey, Jr. flew in on Carl Lindner’s private jet to save the day. Unfortunately, he ended up not being Prince Charming.
Just a few short months later, Brennaman called out Griffey Jr., on air, for not running hard enough to stretch a single into a double. Griffey didn’t appreciate it and told Brennaman so afterwards in the locker room. Marty had built a career on running hard every play, using his mind and mouth behind the mic. He understood a half baked effort when he saw it. “The next time you don’t run hard to first base, I’ll point it out again,” Brennaman said.
As Griffey walked away, refusing to engage further, Marty told him, “I was here before you were here and I’ll be here after you’re gone.” He was right on both counts. He was there 26 years before Griffey. And now 11 years after Griffey’s departure, Brennaman is still at work, hitting the same nail with diligence and excellence.
45 years in the same job, doing the same thing and serving the same community is remarkable. My dad worked as long for Westinghouse as a nuclear engineer. In our modern economy, though, long-standing jobs with honorable employers are rare. Even more rare are people of character who will stand their post and do their job.
I’m not just talking about your paycheck job. I’m talking about the job of taking care of yourself physically. I’m talking about the job of growing spiritually. I’m talking about the job of keeping a marriage strong and growing strong kids.
Marty Brennaman has called many home runs in his Hall of Fame career. Any one of those calls has generated more decibels of applause for the athlete than the sum total Marty has received his entire career. And I promise you, that fact has never bothered him.
Faithful men aren’t jealous of what others are receiving. The cheer of the crowd feels important in the moment but it fades as quickly as it starts. Most of us would be hard pressed to name 45 Reds players. But we won’t forget the voice that spoke their wins and losses over the radio for the past 45 years.
Don’t work for the cheer of the crowd. Marty’s career shows the power of consistently showing up, running your race, and doing it for the long haul. People who can hit the long ball are a dime a dozen but people who can go the long haul are a rare find. Thank you Marty Brennaman.