I’ve been a baseball fan all my life…which is a very long time. Living in L.A. and having family within walking distance of Chavez Ravine, I was a natural Dodger fan. The only way to experience games as a kid was on the radio, and for several generations of fans, their teams had a single voice providing the play-by-play. For me, it was Vin Scully, and for Reds fans, it was Marty Brennaman.
Terry Lukemire’s documentary, How We Lookin’? The Immortal Words of Marty Brennaman chronicles Brennaman’s 43 seasons behind the mic. The film is a fairly standard sports documentary featuring a comprehensive library of television highlights and talking-head interviews with colleagues. Notably, it includes Reds players, fans (including Nick Lachey), and Brennaman himself.
Diehard fans of baseball will like How We Lookin’? The Immortal Words of Marty Brennaman because sports fandom is not just about loyalty to a team. It’s about memories and moments, and Brennaman has more than his fair share of “remember when” stories, including how quickly and how young he was when he got the Reds announcer position, replacing veteran announcer Al Michaels. In his first game, he called Hank Arron’s 714th home run, which tied Babe Ruth. What a way to start your career. He also called Jim Browning’s perfect game, which I listened to (from Vin Scully’s perspective) because it was against the Dodgers during their 1988 championship season.
“…chronicles Brennaman’s 43 seasons behind the mic [as a baseball announcer].”
Other stand-out moments for Brennaman included Ken Griffey Jr.’s 500th home run on Father’s Day, which is a fascinating story, and Pete Rose’s 4192 record-breaking hit. In fact, Rose tells a touching story about Brennaman’s induction into the Hall of Fame and gets quite emotional about it…for some reason (wink).
How We Lookin’? The Immortal Words of Marty Brennaman gets into some fascinating behind-the-scenes tales about his time as “Marty and Joe” with his first and long-time partner, Joe Nuxhal. One season Marty had to shave his head because of a bet he made that the Reds couldn’t win ten games in a row. Marty’s style of announcing was based on honesty. Often he would criticize players who didn’t bring their game on a particular night. The league infamously reprimanded him for calling out an umpire, who he believed was the worst in baseball history.
How We Lookin’? The Immortal Words of Marty Brennaman will appeal to a vast but niche audience of Cincinnati citizens and avid baseball enthusiasts. I am, by no means, a fan of the Reds, but I am a fan of baseball, particularly the final days of family-owned teams, long before the corporatization of the sport. Lukemire’s film stirred up a lot of memories for me, mostly the nostalgia of a time when baseball felt much more personal and accessible to fans. Though I didn’t know Brennaman at all, I was engaged throughout the almost two hours of his story, which I wasn’t looking forward to. There are not a lot of frills here, but there’s plenty of baseball, which is good enough for me.
"…there's plenty of baseball, which is good enough for me."