Amanda Brennaman was in disbelief.
No way her new husband, Marty Brennaman, the Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds, was going to part with his loving hair.
Not his hair.
But it was true and, being a dutiful husband, Marty made sure his bride heard it from the horse’s mouth.
If the Reds defeated the Rockies for their 10th consecutive victory on that Sunday afternoon on July 29 in Denver then, yes, she would be married to a bald man.
Marty had opened his mouth and inserted a foot. Again.
“When he called he said ‘You need to hear this from me because I don’t want you to see it on the Internet.’ I was kind of worried about the way he started the conversation,” Amanda said. “Did he get in trouble or say something? I never imagined he would cut his hair under any circumstances.
“Honestly, I truly didn’t believe him. I’ve been prank called by these guys before. No way he would have ever said this. Then I did see it online and I had somebody post a message on Facebook.”
Amanda, an Ashland native, said she immediately raced to the ballpark to root for the Reds.
“I did not want to miss a single pitch in that game,” she said. “Yes, I want this to happen if he’s silly enough to be something like that.”
Amanda ran into Dallas Latos, the wife of Mat Latos. “I told her I hope your husband has a Cy Young pitching performance. Apparently he was a little nervous about the whole thing. He had trouble keeping his lunch down.”
Marty himself had forgotten about his conversation with Reds bench coach Chris Speier a few weeks ago— when he said he would cut his hair bald if the Reds won 10 in a row — until being reminded of it the day after the Reds had won their ninth in a row.
“I come into the ballpark on Sunday and they were laying for me,” Marty said. “The players were bouncing off all four walls they were so excited.
“Fifteen seconds into the conversation with Chris, I said, ‘I remember.’ He said ‘What are you going to do?’ I said I’m going to allow my head to be shaved.”
Marty was going to talk about it on the radio before the game, which is why he called Amanda to let her in on the revolting development.
“I said ‘I need to tell you something before you get it second hand,’” he said.
“I thought it was something serious,” Amanda chimed in.
“It was damn serious! I’m losing my hair for God’s sake,” Marty said. “I knew that once I said something about it on the air, it was going to be all over the Internet.”
Sure enough, it went viral once Marty made it official. It even hit Facebook, which Amanda keeps busy with posts and photos of her bald and beautiful husband.
Root for the Reds
Amanda cheered for the Reds a little harder on that Sunday — she was even spotted beside Marty by the television cameras in the ninth inning — and they came through with the 10th victory in a row. Amanda raised her arms triumphantly after the final out, a big smile on her face.
As the players were walking off the field, they were looking up toward the radio booth and making hand motions like they were clipping hair.
On the same night, Marty mentioned how it would be nice to turn the event into a fundraiser for the Reds Community Fund and that was the best thing that happened.
“The front office people in charge of such things took the ball and ran with it,” he said.
Marty said he would cut his hair at home plate after the Friday game with the Pirates if $20,000 was raised for the fund. There was $30,000 from corporate Cincinnati and an additional $20,000 from fans for a grand total of $50,000.
Actor Charlie Sheen, who happened to be at the weekend series with the Pirates, wrote an addtional check for another $50,000.
“Charlie Sheen was there that night, saw the ceremony and was very moved by it,” Marty said.
It turned out to be a fun night and a heartfelt night for all involved.
The Reds defeated the Pirates 3-0 behind Latos, who also hit a two-run homer, and there certainly was a, uh, buzz in the air.
It was also fireworks night but that wasn’t the reason practically every seat stay occupied when the game ended.
They were anticipating the Big Event.
“As much as people universally like fireworks, people are always going to leave,” Marty said. “A guy told me you could count on one hand the number of people who left the ballpark.”
Marty came out wearing a No. 70 Reds’ jersey to match his age and he never blinked when getting into the chair. His stylist of 23 years, Jeff Duckwall, would do the honors.
The players thought they were going to get the clippers but Marty wasn’t going to let that happen.
Marty’s youngest daughter, Ashley, was worried her father all week about losing his precious hair.
“I was never depressed,” he said. “I was curious. I was curious to see if my head will be shaped well enough to handle being bald. I’m not happy at the look. When I look in the mirror, I ain’t happy with what I’m seeing coming back at me. (But) It will all grow back and nobody can ever take the memory away from Friday night. It was worth it.”
It may have been the most well-orchestrated haircut in history and Marty took it over the top with an incredible gesture.
Brennaman welcomed three young cancer patients from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center onto the field with him.
“My friend John was at the Children's Hospital the other day and a young lady said to him, a patient, 'On Friday night, Marty Brennaman will look like us,’” Brennaman said before kissing the children’s heads. “And I can’t begin to tell you how much that touched my heart and how thrilled I am to be a part of your world.”
Marty took off his Reds’ jersey and releaved a t-shirt underneath that said “I’m Still Me” on it and he talked about the virtues of the Dragonfly Foundation, which helps young children cope with the affects of cancer, including hair loss.
The support the foundation has received since Friday night has been overwhelming.
“It became a tremendous human history story born out of the fact they asked me to wear the t-shirt, which I did,” he said. “They’ve heard from people all over the country. It’s given them lots of exposure and publicity, which is great.”
‘I was stunned’
As Marty was being sheered, television views of Amanda showed her with both hands on her face.
“It wasn’t because I was horrified,” she said. “I honestly and trusly was stunned. I love him regardless of what hair he may have or not have. I was stunned.”
Amanda said she’s seen him dress down hairdressers for cutting off a little too much.
“And he was sitting in that chair allowing Jeff to shave his head,” she said.
Amanda took the field with her mother, sister, nephew and Marty’s daughter. They were standing outside the umpire suite, near third base, and the Dragonfly kids were there, too.
“Ashley was concerned about her dad and I had a little concern, too,” Amanda said. “Once we saw those little girls, all that completely went away. I felt like we all would have done it.”
The foundation is setting up billboards in Cincinnati thanking Marty for his gesture. It says ‘Marty, thank you for joining the Dragonfly Club’ and there are dragonflies on it wearing Reds’ caps.
It was an eventful night and a tiring one for the Hall of Famer.
“I was emotionally exhausted when the night was over,” he said. “It was gutwrenching.”
Marty said his hair is already starting to come back, partly because Duckwall didn’t shave his head with a razor.
“There’s stubble all over my head now,” he said proudly.
Amanda is having Marty take a daily photo of his hair. She’s going to be away for a couple of weeks and wants to see the progress.
“I’ve been posting pictures on Facebook, which he thinks his ridiculous,” Amanda said. “Everybody wants to see it.”
Brennaman, an avid golfer, has been using a super sunblocker to keep his noggin from getting burned. Fellow broadcaster Chris Welch quipped it was like turtle wax.
Here are four words for the Reds marketing department: Marty Brennaman Bald Bobblehead.
“Don’t think they didn’t think of it,” he said. “The problem is all those bobbleheads are made in China. They didn’t have enough time to put it all together.”
As they say, there’s always next year.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2648.
Amanda Brennaman was in disbelief.
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