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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanks, Joe

What a sad day... never again will we hear a Reds game described by Marty & Joe, with the passing late last night of Joe Nuxhall. Where do I begin? He was my summer soundtrack for 40 years....

As a Reds fan, you always knew something exciting was happening, or the ball could be a home run, by how excited Joe was. I'll miss that. Sure, sometimes you couldn't understand what exactly had happened -- a fly ball to left-right-center field? -- but we'd figure it out sooner or later. We loved Nux, that was all part of his charm.

I'll never forget his excitement when Joe Oliver singled in Billy Bates from third base in Game 2 of the 1990 World Series at Riverfront, when the Reds were sweeping Oakland. I thought Joe was going to jump out of the booth! I heard that call on the radio driving in to work today. Still makes me smile.

That's what I'll remember most about Joe. He made me smile. He made all of us smile. He made thousands or millions or gazillions of Reds fans smile from his pitching (135 wins), his hitting (15 HRs and 78 RBIs in 16 seasons, good enough to pinch-hit occasionally. As he liked to say, "If you swing the bat you're dangerous!") and his broadcasting. He also made tons of kids smile through the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund started with his son, Kim, in Fairfield schools, and giving out about $450,000 in scholarships to about 400 high school seniors, and his campaigning for school levies and school construction. Or helping Santa pass out candy at Fairfield City Hall, after the tree-lighting ceremony.

I was fortunate enough to be with him many times. One of my favorite memories was interviewing him at his home in 1996, where he has photos framed and signed balls in his basement den. It was like a Nux Hall of Fame. In a nearby storage room, he found a Wiedemann Beer poster from his first year on Reds radio in 1967... One like it is in the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum now, but it was a special thrill to see it stashed away at his house years ago.

In recent years, when I needed to interview him, I'd head to the Bob Evans in Fairfield for breakfast. He was always there at 7 a.m. to eat at the front counter with his son and three pals. I felt so honored when Kim would hold the 6th seat at the counter for me, and I'd slide in next to Nux. Wow, I felt I was being admitted to a special inner circle.

Looking back, I'm also proud to have done stories about Nux's generosity, with the character and scholarship funds and raising money for the One Way Farm home for abandoned and abused kids.... so people outside Butler County could understand what a totally selfless man he was. The only person I'd met like that was Mr. Rogers. Our conversations at Bob Evans always would be interrupted by folks wanting autographs. He always smiled and signed. He never turned anyone away.

Here are my favorite quotes about Nux from Marty Brennaman:
--About his endless charitable nature: "They (people) don't know about it because he doesn't talk about it. He doesn't do things and then pat himself on the back and make sure everybody in captivity knows what he's doing. He legitimately would not care if anybody ever knew about it, because he derives enough satisfaction by himself, in doing what he does, that he doesn't need everyone to know about it... Honest to God, I've never known a person with a measure of celebrity who has zero ego like he does. I've never known anybody! I mean, we are in a business that breeds egomaniacs.... I've been blessed because I've been associated with him for all of these years. He taught me a helluva lot about humility, because I've got a pretty good ego. I've learned a lot from him. And when the day ever comes that I walk away from this business, the one overriding thing that I will be thankful for is the fact that I spent 30 years in radio booth with him." (2006)

--On Nux being an instutitution: "People talked about Pete Rose being the sports institution in this town, but Pete Rose didn't hold a candle to Joe. I've never heard anyone in my 23 years ever utter a negative comment about him. So if we're talking institutions, Joe is the No. 1 sports institution in this town. Pete Rose is not even in the same league with him." (1996). Just last March, Brennaman put it this way: "With all due respect to Pete Rose, there is no bigger figure in City of Cincinnati than Joe Nuxhall. In all the years we've been together, going back to '74, I have never heard one person ever ever utter a negative comment about him. That's almost unbelievable! You can’t expect that of anybody!"

When I heard that Nux died, I hustled over to Bob Evans this morning. Check out my story posted on the web.

If you have some favorite Nuxhall memories, feel free to add them here. I'll try to post them when I can... but I'll be busy the next few days helping out on our Nuxhall coverage. And check out our Nuxhall stories, photos and videos at

Thanks Joe for helping us enjoy life... and showing us how to live it.


at 11/16/2007 1:38 PM Blogger Aaron said...

I almost fell down when I heard the news this morning. I new that he was in bad health, but I figured that the surgery would be successfull and he would live for a few more years. Joe's voice holds so many memories for me. I'm 18, so Joe has been around on the radio for my whole life and whenever I heard him broadcast spring training games in March, I could almost believe that it was the middle of summer. His voice was synonymous with the carefree, barefoot days of childhood summers for me and always will be. Listening to the game with my parents in the car, sitting outside in the shade with my Walkman and a can of Dr. Pepper, so many memories involve Joe and I will miss him very much.

at 11/16/2007 3:42 PM Blogger SophiaZ123 said...

I have had WLW on most of the day. Today McConnell went LOCAL and Willie was on his game.

To hear everybody call in full of emotion...Seg was so sad...

I was hoping Joe would make it into the HOF and live to see it happen. I became concerned as the pace maker surgery was talked about and put off..and the combo of pneumonia and breathing issues. It was very sad to wake up to this news. I only caught the last few minutes of Bob Trumpy's great interview with Joe and hope that WLW radio has the GOOD SENSE to repeat that or put it ONLINE for listening.

I have a T shirt that a friend made up years ago. He met Nuxhall at his bstting cage in Fairfield to permission to make up these shirts. Joe was very nice and not interested in a dime. Did not want to promote himself of course.

I have two of these T shirts. On the front is a small sketch of Joe pitching from the pitchers mount. On the back a bigger sketch of Joe with his stats and his saying "Rounding third and heading for home."

I wore this shirt everywhere I went but nobody ever asked about it so we never pushed the shirts.

I wonder if it will get noticed when I wear it to the Fairfield Y in the next few days? We really wanted folks to WANT to wear these 12 years ago so Joe could SEE the LOVE but...folks will probably want one now. :(

But I can assure you my friend will NOT be cashing in on his death by making more. This will make the shirts I have even MORE PRECIOUS.

I am 50 and remember Joe's great voice from the last 39 years.....even when I lost interest in baseball in 94 after the strike, and the steroid issues, I would still often listen in the car on radio or in the house for background noise and comfortable voices that always felt familiar,

Listening to Joe's voice was like putting on a pair of old comfortable slippers. Made us feel good.

R.I.P. Joe

You shall be missed

Sophiaz in Fairfield

at 11/16/2007 5:46 PM Blogger Robert Scott said...


I picked up the news of Joe's passing late in the day. When Marge Schott passed I celebrated her life. I watched others react to the passing of Bob Braun. But the passing of Joe is the only time the loss of a Cincinnati celebrity made me cry out loud.

I'm going to miss him.

at 11/16/2007 7:13 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep I am 22 and have listened to Marty and Joe my entire life. I remember going over to grandma's and grandpa's and listening to the reds game during the summers.

This is a very sad day for every cincinnatian.

I was crying watching the 9 news and listening to DJ and POPO telling great stories about the old left hander.

at 11/16/2007 7:48 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe had been doing Reds radio for a couple of seasons when I started broadcasting Fairfield High School games on WCNW. Nuxie enjoyed hanging out in our radio booth from time to time (usually extremely cold nights) while his son Kim was playing for the Indians.

Our friendship continued to the end. Joe always invited to me to play in his golf tourney at the Elks, which is where I last had a chance to talk with him in June. Nux also showed up at Potters Park every New Year's morning, where a bunch of us crazy golfers get together for an informal outing to start each year. He even offered some medical advice for me on knee replacement surgery.

Our family lives were further connected when Kim Nuxhall became my daughters gym teacher years ago.

The Joe Nuxhall Budwiser Open will likely go on, but it'll never be the same with the Ole lefthander signing autographs and sneaking behind the clubhouse to light up a cigarette without Donzetta seeing him.

God Speed Lefty...

Fred Slezak

at 11/17/2007 9:38 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm confused about the bob evans story. I thought Bob Evans died recently? This is apparently a different Bob Evans, who happens to go to a Bob Evans restaurant? This is very confusing for the casual reader.

at 11/17/2007 9:04 PM Blogger John Kiesewetter said...

To Anon 9:38 AM:
Sorry to confuse you, but guy's name from Fairfield Twp is Bob Evans. And yes, the restaurant chain owner is dead. Different guy.

As for the Ch 9 coverage: I thought Popovich's prepared piece, which ran in the 6-7 am news Friday, was the best. He call Nuxie on the radio "our comfortable companion."

One more thing: Ch 48 repeating the 4 half-hour shows Nux did with Dennis Janson in '05. They air 7:30 Mon-Tues next two weeks.


at 11/18/2007 5:29 AM Blogger Tim Lones said...

Most Cities have what I guess you could call a "Baseball Icon"..A color guy that maybe wasnt all that great a "broadcaster" in the classic sense, but You didnt care,..You still loved him..He was always there..You knew he loved the team and that was all that mattered..Joe Nuxhall was that and more for Reds Fans..

I suspect that whenever Herb Score passes on eventually..And he hasnt been well physically for several years..It will be the same for us Indians fans..

at 11/21/2007 4:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved Joe. Now please, make it stop.....If I here just one more yokel call a talk show and tell about how he ran into Joe at a UDF, I am gonna gnaw my arms off....

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