This is a sad day for Reds fans.

The Hall of Famer is hanging up his microphone after the Cincinnati Reds' 2019 season.

Pitchers and catchers haven't even reported to spring training, and I'm already in a sour mood about this baseball season.

At today's Reds on Radio affiliates' luncheon at Great American Ball Park, broadcaster Marty Brennaman announced that 2019 will be his final season in the 700 WLW Radio booth.

As noted by the Reds' Rob Butcher, Brennaman received the Ford C. Frick Award on July 23, 2000 in ceremonies at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The award is presented each year by the Hall of Fame to a broadcaster “for major contributions to the game of baseball.”

Brennaman, Red Barber, Al Helfer and Russ Hodges are the only Reds announcers ever to receive the Hall of Fame’s prestigious broadcasting award.

The 2019 season will be Brennaman’s 55th as a broadcaster, his 46th in Cincinnati.

In a 2017 HCP column, I wrote that as much as it pains me to say it, sooner or later Marty Brennaman is going to enjoy his well-deserved retirement. That’s just the way it is.

I am old enough to remember listening to the Reds on WLW radio with Al Michaels and Joe Nuxhall in the early 1970s. When Michaels left the Reds after the 1973 season to begin his now-famous national sports media career, I was initially upset.

My dad told me to give the “new guy” a chance. The new guy turned out to be Marty (By God) Brennaman. The “By God” is a tribute to his Hall of Fame induction speech in which he pointed out that Pete Rose belongs in Cooperstown. By God.

He joined the Reds radio team in 1974 and for 31 seasons (1974-2004) shared the 700 WLW Radio booth with Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Joe Nuxhall.

In addition to being a Hall of Famer, Brennaman has been named Ohio Sportscaster of the Year 17 times, most recently last year. He won the Virginia Sportscaster of the Year Award four times while broadcasting basketball games for the American Basketball Association’s Virginia Squires, baseball games for the New York Mets’ Class AAA affiliate in Norfolk and football games for both Virginia Tech and William & Mary. He also has broadcast games during the NCAA’s men’s basketball tournament, including 15 regional tournaments and 11 Final Fours. In 2005, Brennaman was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame and the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago.

If there's an award for sports broadcasting, Brennaman owns it. Simply put, he's the best.

One of the things, in just my opinion, that broadcasters like Brennaman bring to the listeners is the art (possibly a lost art today) of conversation.

They seem to instinctively realize that if a player does something incredibly stupid on the field or court, that their listeners and/or viewers know it. They don’t sugarcoat the fielding error or the untimely foul or turnover. They call it as they see it. And as we see it.

That’s not true for a lot of broadcasters – or newspaper writers, for that matter. Some will spin the truth six ways from Saturday and swear to it on Sunday.

There will come a day – maybe in late 2019 or sometime not long after – when the Reds Hall of Fame broadcaster will settle into his golden years walking the beaches and writing his memoirs. The book, like the man, will be a best-seller.

When my dad was fighting a rough battle with cancer 30 years ago, one of the things that always brought us together was listening to Marty and Joe call the Reds games. Marty and Joe even made the Vern Rapp years in the mid-1980s interesting and enjoyable, talking about their fictitious tomato crops (Big Boys and Beefsteaks) and other fun stuff.

Needless to say, Marty will be missed. I know real Reds fans will miss him. I know I will.

His career that has spanned all or parts of the last five decades can be summed up in one of his classic home run calls: “Break out the mustard and the rye bread, Grandma, it’s a grand salami.”

In an interview this week with The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Daugherty, Brennaman said: "I wanted to retire by saying after my last broadcast, 'this is it for me,' then walk away.

"The Reds felt that would be a disservice to the fans and the ball club. So I agreed to do it this way. I will be very grateful. And very uncomfortable."

I'm glad the Reds convinced Marty to endure his "farewell tour" for the sake of Reds fans. We need that. We need to see the "We Love You, Marty" banners hanging in Great American Ball Park this summer. We need to know that we must cherish each Reds broadcast this season. We need to listen just a little closer.

And we need to be thankful. Not every Major League city has a Marty Brennaman. Not even close. We have been spoiled. And we have been blessed.

Thanks for 46 years, Marty. I wish I could add "and here's to many more."

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.