When Marty Brennaman, Rabble-Rouser, Got Spanked By The Commissioner

This is semi-ancient baseball history, but for those of us who haven't thought a whole lot about Cincinnati Reds play-by-play man Marty Brennaman until the last 48 hours or so, we can enjoy this as if it were fresh and new.

In late April, 1988, the Reds were hosting the New York Mets in old Riverfront Stadium. Umpire Dave Pallone, who had a long history of conflict with the Reds in general and Cincy manager Pete Rose in particular, was working first base. In the bottom of the third inning, Rose and Pallone got into a chest-to-chest confrontation over a disputed play on the bases. Rose and Pallone got their fingers in each other's faces, Pallone told Rose, "Get your fucking finger out of my face," Rose shoved Pallone with his forearm and then, after Pallone had given Rose the official heave-ho and turned to walk away, Rose shoved Pallone a second time, in the back.

Here's where Marty enters the story.

As related by James Reston, Jr. in "Collision at Home Plate: The Lives of Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti":

In the broadcast booth above, Reds announcers Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall heaped scorn on the umpire. Brennaman called (Pallone) an incompetent, a terrible, terrible umpire, and reported that in the battle of fingers, Pallone's finger had grazed the face of the saint of Reds baseball. Garbage poured down on the field: golf balls, coins, cigarette lighters, marbles, hot dogs. A whiskey bottle exploded on a seat near an usher. When toilet paper fell near Pallone, the incendiary broadcasters remarked upon the aptness of the symbol.

By Reston's reckoning, this marked "the most terrifying moment of fan riot since the Rose-(Bud) Harrelson incident at Shea Stadium in 1973." Rose was eventually suspended by Giamatti for 30 days. Rose and his attorney flew to New York to meet with Commissioner Giamatti in person and appeal the suspension, but before he met with the manager, Giamatti chose to meet with the broadcasters.

While he took no action, (Giamatti) let (Brennaman and Nuxhall) know that inciting a riot was not part of their job description.

Moral of the story: in the world according to Marty Brennaman, throwing batting practice balls on the field is bad; throwing cigarette lighters and marbles, if it's done in the name of defending the honor of your manager, is something else entirely.

(Credit for bringing this story to my attention goes to the somewhat addled caller who phoned in to the Steve Cochran show on WGN Radio late Friday afternoon. If you're reading this, thanks for the lead.)


If you liked this article, consider supporting us during TCR's April Pledge Drive.


Got Spanked by the Commissioner

...and his ass is still Red

So Brennaman's comments were hypocritical as well as over the top. Not surprising.

But throwing shit on the field is obnoxious whether it's in Cincy, Philly, New York or Chicago.

Couldn't agree more, but beyond the hypocrisy, it was Brennaman's extending the rant into the "Cubs choke, they'll never win, and I'm happy about it" that I find so galling and unprofessional.


My feelings exactly!

See this, this is the kind of thing, quite honestly, right now, that makes you want to see this Cincinnati Reds team lose.

When Pallone came out of the closet a few years later, I thought back to that day of Rose attacking the ump.

According to that book I quoted, there was chatter in Cincinnati that Pallone had once tried to pick up a kid in a bar, and Pallone was sure Rose was behind the gossip. That fed the ill will between them, which exploded into the argument/finger-pointing/shoving incident.

Of course Pallone was livid.

We all know the flirt in question was Johnny Bench!

Racist Japanese shirts forced out by Cubs


Poor taste and lets leave it at that!

How about his Hee - Haw pardner in the booth? When did Brantley suddenly turn into Larry the Cable Guy? Were they attempting to reach out to the folks across the river in KY?

is anyone else thinking out there...."who cares?"

I mean, The reds are irrelevant, Marty is irrelevant

hell, who really cares about throwing baseballs anyway? The players know they are coming, so no one is getting hurt and the field crew is getting paid anyway. Sure there are other ways to voice displeasure, but do I really have to waste 10 mins of my life reading articles on how it is some sin of epic proportions? Lets keep it all in perspective.

Sometimes if I'm not interested in something I don't spend time on it. For instance, when I see Manny's name in the comments, I just pass on by. (No offense, Manny)

Oh yeah, Fuck Brennaman!

You just wasted more time from your life (and ours) on a matter that you profess not to care about, chiefly via posting here. Huh?

its philosophical more so than literal. A la ABC news debates.

Minor League team (surprisingly!!) decides to cancel Michael Vick Welcome to Prison Night after receiving complaints. Who saw that one coming...


I was actually at the game and thought the throwing of baseball's on the field was sort of funny, kind of a parody of the traditional throw the ball back where we all know the switcheroo with the real HR ball gets put in the pocket and the "fake" ball gets thrown onto the field. It might have had the Reds yelping if it was their outfielders on the field but since the Cubs were on the field nobody's accusing the ball throwing as being dangerous (ie. hitting an outfielder).

With all the balls getting thrown on the field, it shows how many bleacherites are prepared to catch a HR and throw back a non-game ball.

Throwing a ball back is okay.

But dozens is bush league.

Along with throwing garbage on the field on bad calls or ejections.

That being said no one should pick on our fans from other teams.

Sorta like "Animal House" when Otter said "He's (Neidermeyer) is abusing our pledges?!!?! Only we get to abuse are pledges."

I heard this first actually on Boers and Bernstein on Thursday during Who You Crappin?

So, I went to the Reds/Brew Crew game today and wouldn't you know it, I catch Corey Hart's 2nd inning HR, beer and peanuts in my left hand, ball in my right, all without spilling a drop! Next thing you know 26,000 (on a Saturday for Reds blanket giveaway!!)are screaming for me to throw it back, and i shook my head and told them all to for get it cuz this isnt Wrigley! and they booed me. God it felt GREAT!!!! I hope Marty saw it on replay, and saw me with my Cubs hat on, NOT throwing it back...

way to grab life by the ball

Marty had a point that the 15 or so baseballs thrown back into the field was bush league move. Clearly it is but Marty soliloquy of how he interprets this fan behavior with the Cubs performance was a cheap shot that he should apologize. He has been around a long time and I expect his to behave as a professional.

Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Yes! In a 12-way tie for first!

  • Shit.

    Blew my prediction! I had them signing Zimmerman and trading for another arm.

  • Damn wanted Zimmermann

  • Yeah, this market. Remember when Ted Lilly signed a 4/$40m with the Cubs? It was like "Well, I guess if you can throw a ball, that's what the 3 and 4 starters are all getting." I'm glad I'm not a GM. Of course, they're spending our money...

  • in this market that seems like a decent deal relative to the market.

    given that d.price will probably get 30m-ish a year, 22m for 29yo zimm doesn't seem bad. i wouldn't complain about him suiting up for the cubs. one less option gone...

  • Zimmermann 5/$110m with Tigers. Youch.

    And the updated predications page: http://bit.ly/1NWlEek

  • Cubs 3B Christian Villanueva (who is out of minor league options) is hitting 358/464/500 for Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League (LMP), and is leading the LMP in OBP, is second in BAvg and walks, is seventh in SLG, and is tied for 8th in HR. He also has struck out only 16 times in 175 PA. 

  • CTSteve, thanks for spelling Zimmermann correctly. We don't need another first baseman.

  • The media has linked Cueto and the Cubs approximately zero times this winter. I'm thinking there's just not a lot of interest there on the Cubs' part. It seems unlikely.

    If the Cubs miss on Price, Grienke, and Zimmerman, they will aim for a mid-rotation starter via free agency or trade. However, I think this scenario also significantly boosts the odds that they extend Arrieta.

  • The Tigers are going after Zimmermann and the Red Sox will be throwing money at Price. Bringing Cueto back to the NL with the Cubs is looking like a serious possibility. Thoughts?

  • Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe in the financial impact to the Red Sox for not signing Jon Lester early in the free agent process:

    It will be interesting to ultimately add up the cost of letting Jon Lester go.

    The Red Sox botched up their negotiations with Lester in during spring training of 2014, making an initial offer of $70 million that was roughly $40 million short of what it should have been. Talks broke down and Lester was traded in July.

  • Wait...you're flip-flopping again?!

    Is this legal? What is the rule here on opining definitively and then changing your mind?

    I am not only surprised at your declaration, but Cutler's better 2015 showing. I don't get it - he went through Martz, Turner, Trestman, Kromer, and now Gase...and he is still here! And. he'll be here mext year too.

  • Happ signs w Jays

    Morsi saying Price won't be a Jay

  • needs more d.beeler and e.jokisch

  • As an Illinois tax payer I appreciate what they r doing

  • + Bankruptcy Court