VIENNA, W.Va. - The most popular member of any college or professional sports franchise isn't the manager, coach or star player.
Rather, in most cases, it is the team announcer.
He's the guy (or gal in this day and age) that fans allow into their home each evening, whether it's through the television and/or the radio.
DAVE POE Special to The Times
Reds announcer Marty Brennaman signs an autograph for a fan at Grand Central Mall in Vienna, W.Va., Friday.
For the past 39 years, fans of the Cincinnati Reds have treasured the melodious voice of Marty Brennaman. When Al Michaels left the Reds prior to the 1974 season, Brennaman applied to be his replacement as the team's play-by-play announcer.
It didn't take Brennaman long after he was hired to establish himself as a household name in Reds country. On his second broadcast, when the Reds recorded the final out of a victory, Brennaman closed his call of the live action with the now- famous words that have become his trademark "This one belongs to the Reds.''
So does Marty Brennaman. He's belonged to the Reds for 39 years. He's had offers to go to New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and dozens of other franchises in different sports. But Brennaman isn't about to leave home. He loves being the announcer of the Reds and isn't looking for any other position.
Brennaman, who will begin his 40th season as the Reds announcer when the team opens the 2013 campaign against the Los Angeles Angels in the traditional home opener on April 1, bubbles with enthusiasm when talking about the Reds. Although he is 70-years old, you would only know that by reading his resume. He has twice the energy of most men his age. His only concession to being a septuagenarian it that he now takes a few games off each year, an idea proposed to him by good friend Vin Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who like Brennaman is a Hall of Fame announcer. Brennaman, who can spin a story with the best of them, said he ran into Scully one day and Vin asked him he many games he was doing each year. To which Brennaman replied, "All of them.''
That's when Scully offered him a retort that got Brennaman to thinking.
"You don't labor under the mistaken impression,'' Scully said, "that they won't play if you're not there.''
So Brennaman decided to take off a few road games during the season.
Although his voice is the most recognized by Reds' fans, the same can't be said for his physical presence, at least not since he cut his hair for charity last season. The Brennaman who appeared at the Grand Central Mall on Friday as part of the Reds Caravan sported short hair and him unrecognizable to several Reds supporters.
Spend five minutes with Brennaman and you will conclude he knows the game -inside and out. He especially knows the Reds and the potential that this team has in 2013. He has called the Reds winning the World Series three times -in 1975, 1976 and 1990 -and not only would love to do it again, but you can tell he believes if things go right this year, he will do it again.
This is a team with few weaknesses. It cleared up its biggest one -the lack of a leadoff hitter -by signing Shin-Soo Choo away from the Cleveland Indians, even though he is on a one-year contract. That, however, is by design. By 2014, the Reds believe that minor league phenom Billy Hamilton, who stole 155 bases, will be ready for the bigs and take off the No. 1 spot in the batting order.
"He will be a dynamic addition,'' said Brennaman, who indeed was a dynamic addition himself when the team had the foresight to hire him in 1974.
Brennaman said growing up he knew he wanted to be a play-by-play announcer but he didn't know where. After spending one season with the Reds, that questioned was answered and the answer remains the same today.