Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Michaels looks forward to return to Reds' booth


John Kiesewetter

LOS ANGELES - For the first time in 30 years, sportscaster Al Michaels is watching the Cincinnati Reds closely.

Michaels, who got his big league broadcasting start as the Reds radio announcer (1971-73), will be ESPN's "baseball legends" announcer for the Aug. 6 Reds-Dodgers game.

"All of the sudden, I'm back into watching the Reds," says Michaels, ABC's Emmy-winning Monday Night Football announcer who was only 26 when hired by the Reds from the minor-league Hawaii Islanders.

"I'm watching the Reds every night on the dish," says Michaels, during his visit to the Television Critics Association press tour.

His national ESPN telecast from Dodger Stadium will have a strong Reds lineup.

Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, who played for the Reds during Michaels' brief Cincinnati tenure, will be the analyst, along with ESPN announcer Gary Thorne. Morgan was acquired from the Houston Astros for the 1972 season, which ended with the Reds losing to the Oakland A's in the World Series.

Michaels also is inviting his successor, Marty Brennaman, and former radio partner, Joe Nuxhall, into the ESPN booth.

"I told the (ESPN) guys that Nuxie is retiring, so let's bring him in for an inning," Michaels says.

Michaels, honored as Ohio Sportscaster of the Year during his Cincinnati stay, hasn't been to town since the construction of Paul Brown Stadium. (The Bengals haven't played on Monday night since 1992.) He finds it hard to believe that the stadium in which he worked 30 years ago has been demolished.

"I feel as healthy and good as I did in 1971, and I'm thinking, 'Man alive, I did the first ever Opening Day at Riverfront Stadium in 1971, and now the thing is gone!' I outlived the stadium!"


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