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.)


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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

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  • deno ended the season well even though ajax heavily cut into a lot of his chances to play. it's either him or ajax. i'm a bit partial to deno, but whatever...at least ajax isn't hitting 2nd.

  • Agreed. And, with Hendricks on the mound, Cubs will probably need to score some runs to win -- why not start Soler for his bat and bring in Ajax for defense later?

    NEVER MIND....just re-read the lineup.

  • If the Cubs have the lead in the 8th, who pitches? Rodney? Travis? Yikes.

  • The Cubs had some good runs and nice winning streaks that propelled them to the playoffs. Austin Jackson wasn't part of that. I don't quite understand what it is about Jackson that they are so enamored with.

  • I think the strike zone was very inconsistent, but it's hard to blame the loss on the ump. They had chances and mistake pitches and just couldn't cash in. Lackey ran the ball inside and outside very effectively.

  • Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.

  • Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell

  • if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.

  • I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth

  • Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.

    Wtf is up w/that?!

  • Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...

  • I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.

  • Awesome stuff, Phil.

  • listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.

    That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.

  • it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
    should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?

    sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.

  • HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).  

    Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.