Friday, November 16, 2007

The Ole Lefthander Has Rounded Third and is Now Home

Category: News

Joe Nuxhall died Thursday night (11/15).

For most of the baseball world, he is the answer to a trivia question. He is -- and, based on current laws, ever shall be -- the youngest player to ever have played professional baseball. He was 15 years old when he stepped onto the mound for the Cincinnati Reds the first time.
For Reds fans, however, Nuxhall's career as a baseball player is almost secondary to his decades in the broadcast booth. For 30 years, he and Marty Brennaman were the broadcast team for the Reds and the envy of the other teams. After Al Michaels left for network sports, Brennaman went into the booth in 1974 and the classic era of Reds radio broadcasting began. Marty and Joe were there for the Big Red Machine years, including the back-to-back World Series championships in 75 and 76. They called Tom Sever's no-hitter, Tom Brownning's perfect game, Pete Rose's record-breaking 4,192nd hit, and the 1990 World Series sweep of the Oakland A's. They were there for the bad times, too. In fact, Marty's signature call, "This one belongs to the Reds!" supposedly began in sarcasm after the Reds finally won a game following a long losing streak in '74.

Nuxie, as he was lovingly called, retired from full-time broadcasting three years ago because of lymphoma. He continued on a part-time basis, choosing his road trips carefully. All the while, he continued to be a fixture for his beloved Reds, a love affair that was definitely two-way. Earlier this year, three microphones were placed beneath the Reds' broadcast booth at Great America Ballpark to honor legendary broadcasters. Two of those microphones were for Marty and Joe. (The third is for Waite Hoyt.)

Nuxie left a legacy that goes far beyond the record he holds for youth. He worked tirelessly for charities for the Reds, and for greater Cincinnati. His trademark sign-off, "This is the Ol' Lefthander, rounding third and heading for home," is featured on the outside of Great America Ballpark (on the third base side, of course). In honor of Nuxhall, the baseball park will be left dark this weekend, except for those words. His statue will also be illuminated.

Even though Joe hadn't been broadcasting much lately, for Reds fans the game will never sound the same again. The Ol' Lefthander has rounded third for the last time, and is now home.

Joe Nuxhall was 79.

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