Remembering Joe Nuxhall, one of the last characters in baseball.
Before you read any further, take a second and listen to these clips:
It will only take a few seconds.
Did you hear the joy in the voice? Could you just see the smile in the man’s face? The voice was that of Joe Nuxhall, the ol’ lefthander who spent most of his entire life in the service of the Cincinnati Reds. From the time he took to the mound at the tender age of 15 in 1944 through his 40-plus years in the radio booth, he bled Red. Right up to the moment when he passed away last week at age 79, Nuxhall remained the same: a colorful, decent, straightforward person who called ’em as he saw ’em.
He could criticize without being mean. He could praise a player without being gushy. He could be silly and professional on the radio at the same time. Although he had no radio training, he was a natural on the air. He didn’t speak the King’s English at times and his voice often sounded like a bird. He occasionally talked over his partner’s call. But he offered a wonderful offbeat personality to straight men Jim McIntyre and Claude Harmon and taught a young Al Michaels how to relax and even be humorous on the air. When Marty Brennaman replaced Michaels as the team’s radio voice in 1974, the Reds had the perfect mix. Brennaman could start a sentence and Nuxhall would finish it for him. Somebody once described that radio pair as like "listening to an old married couple." Both of them took pride in the comparison.
Through it all, Nuxhall — remember he was always the number two guy in the radio booth — remained the most popular broadcaster in the Ohio Valley. He thought of himself as Hamilton Joe, a simple guy who liked being at the ballpark. The fact he could get paid to talk about baseball on the radio was a wonderful bonus.