when i was a young boy, my link to the cincinnati reds was a small plastic red box with two knobs that made it look like the miniature version of the devil’s car battery (it looked a little like this but stripped down — no labels or add-ons). i would get tucked in for the night, wait a few minutes, and turn that radio on so low that no one at my bedroom door would ever know that i had it on. and i would listen to the reds play, and in those days i would usually listen to them win. more accurately, i would listen to marty and joe (brennaman and nuxhall for those of you scattered about the ethernet) narrate the games. west coast games felt the most transgressive, since they would often not even begin until i’d been in bed for an hour. and people would wonder at the bags under my eyes through the summer. sometimes i would fall asleep before the game even began, and have to wait until the next afternoon to learn the result. and then i would imagine brennaman’s call on a foster home run, or a geronimo catch, or a concepcion double play. and always, my mental replay of the box score would wrap up with nuxhall’s farewell at the end of the game: “this is the ol’ lefthander, roundin’ third and headin’ for home.”
marty and joe were my nighttime reading, my lullaby, my drift-off-to-sleep music. they were my friends, and the friends of every young fan of the big red machine. when i think of the big red machine, i think of free tickets for perfect attendance at school, i think of knowing every player’s name, number, and general stats for the year and careeer, i think of getting to stay up late and watch playoffs and the two glorious World Series, one epic, one a cruelly efficient dispatch of the overmatched Yankees, i think of my mother — never a huge sports fans — loving her reds. but mostly i think of those late-night games on my little red battery, just above the sound of the crickets outside, just below the hum of the house, waiting for nuxhall to sign off on another victory.