The Old Lefthander

“This is The Old Lefthander, rounding third and heading for home.”

That’s what you heard as Joe Nuxhall finished each Cincinnati Reds post game radio broadcast. You can read it in lights on the front of Great American Ballpark. The front of the stadium just happens to parallel the third base line.

Thursday night, Joe Nuxhall died at the age of 79. A life long resident of nearby Hamilton, Ohio, Joe was a Cincinnati Red for over 60 years; first as a pitcher and later in the broadcast booth as their radio announcer. He appeared in 526 baseball games, pitching for the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Athletics, and Los Angeles Angels in a career that spanned 22 years (1944-1966).

The Old Lefthander is the youngest person ever to ever to play the game of baseball, pitching for the Reds about a month before his 16th birthday. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“At 15 years, 10 months and 11 days old, he made his major league debut with the Reds on June 10, 1944 and pitched two-thirds of an inning in an 18-0 loss against the Cardinals. Signed to help fill out the Reds’ roster during World War II, he remains the youngest player ever to appear in a Major League Baseball game in modern history.”

Several years after he retired from throwing a baseball, he started behind the Reds radio microphone in 1967, where he remained for 38 years. For 31 of those seasons, he partnered with Marty Brennaman. Joe was a fixture in this town of Cincinnati, and well loved here. Although it was obvious that he favored the Reds, his broadcast style was calm and matter of fact. He spoke the facts of the game, well mostly the facts, allowing Marty, his partner, to fill in the color and excitement.

Although I used to be a passionate baseball fan, I’ve lost interest the last few years. Even then, it was comforting to turn on the car radio on a warm summer night and tune Marty and Joe on the radio.

Joe Nuxhall was a good guy. And that’s quite a tribute.

Here’s a link to a page in the Cincinnati Enquirer celebrating Joe Nuxhall’s life.


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