Longtime Reds voice Nuxhall passes

Longtime Reds voice Nuxhall passes

CINCINNATI -- For the final time, Joe Nuxhall has rounded third and headed for home.

Nuxhall, a beloved Reds broadcaster, a former pitcher and Cincinnati icon, died late Thursday night from complications of lymphoma. He was 79, with 63 of those years being associated with the Reds.

There will be a public visitation on Tuesday from 4-8 p.m. ET at Fairfield High School Arena. There will then be a private funeral on Wednesday. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Joe Nuxhall Hope Project, c/o Fairfield Community Foundation, 5350 Pleasant Ave., Fairfield, OH 45014. Nuxhall is survived by his wife of 60 years, Donzetta, and sons, Phil and Kim.

After experiencing shortness of breath and a low pulse during an oncologist appointment on Monday, Nuxhall was admitted to Mercy Fairfield Hospital that same day. He was scheduled to have surgery on Friday to receive a pacemaker, but passed away at 10:55 p.m. ET on Thursday.

"On behalf of the entire Nuxhall family, we wish to express our deepest gratitude for the tremendous outpouring of prayers, well-wishes, cards and messages during this very difficult time," Kim Nuxhall said in a statement. "We will be eternally grateful to the Cincinnati Reds organization and the fans who provided us with experiences and memories of a lifetime. Dad truly loved you all."

Affectionately known as "The Ol' Lefthander," Nuxhall was a Reds radio voice from 1967-2004, but worked a handful of games in retirement over the past three seasons.

For 31 years, Nuxhall had a thriving on-air partnership with legendary voice Marty Brennaman that began in 1974. The pair became a beloved tradition for Reds fans around the country that were able to pick up WLW's powerful AM signal.

"He's the best, there's nobody better than him," said Brennaman, who was vacationing on a cruise ship off the pacific coast of Mexico. "People talk about outstanding individuals, there was nobody in our city that can rate better than him."

Having played or broadcasted at 59 Major League ballparks, Nuxhall was known for his easy-going delivery and for his enjoyment of sharing stories and insight to his listeners. His voice also helped describe the action during the "Big Red Machine" championship years of the 1970s and the 1990 World Series championship season.

After games, Nuxhall hosted the postgame show and he interviewed players from inside the Reds clubhouse. His signature signoff of "rounding third and heading for home" is adorned in giant lettering on the outer façade of Great American Ball Park.

Born on July 30, 1928, in nearby Hamilton, Ohio, Nuxhall will forever be part of baseball history for being the youngest player to appear in a Major League game. With World War II depleting rosters around the league, Nuxhall was 15 years, 10 months and 11 days old when he pitched for the Reds on June 10, 1944.

His next game for Cincinnati, where he spent 15 of his 16 Major League seasons, didn't come until 1952. His lifetime record from 1944 and 1952-66, was 135-117 with a 3.90 ERA. He was also a two-time All-Star in 1955-56.

"From the outpouring shown throughout the city today, it's evident Joe is the heart of Reds country," Reds owner/CEO Bob Castellini said on Friday. "Joe was the perfect guy to carry hope to the next generation. He carried the hopes and dreams of every 15-year-old on his shoulders when he pitched for the Reds as the youngest player ever to do so."

There had been many health problems recently for Nuxhall, who was undergoing chemotherapy since October to treat lymphoma. He was also treated for the disease in February and endured several other cancer battles over the past several years. He was also treated for pneumonia in 2006.

Nuxhall was known for his generosity and community efforts, including the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund. In turn, the community gave back to him by offering cards and encouragement during his illnesses. People have also gotten behind him during the latest effort to get him into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Ford Frick Award winner. Nuxhall was a finalist in 2006 and is again on the ballot this year. There was a rally to support his candidacy in Hamilton on Wednesday and the public has been encouraged to vote on an online fan ballot.

A ballpark tribute to Nuxhall had already begun on Friday morning, with a makeshift memorial at his statue on the front entrance to Great American Ball Park. The stadium will be left dark all night, except for that catch phrase in large letters on the side of the ballpark.

Nuxhall will also be recognized at Redsfest on Dec. 7-8, and at Opening Day on March 31, 2008. The NFL's Cincinnati Bengals announced they would have a pregame tribute to Nuxhall before Sunday's game.

"Once Spring Training begins and later, Opening Day in Cincinnati, everybody will have him on their minds," Brennaman said. "He's surely the biggest figure in the history of the franchise, not even close. Never will there be a bigger figure of the Cincinnati Reds than Joe Nuxhall."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.