Jeff Brantley loved the Cincinnati Reds long before he was a pitcher for the team and even longer before he started calling games in the team’s broadcast booth.
When Brantley was growing up in Alabama, he and his dad would listen to famed Reds’ broadcasters Joe Nuxhall and Marty Brennaman calling the games while sitting in the family car, coasting up and down the driveway – it was the only way to get decent reception. .
So when Brantley joined the Reds as a player from 1994 to 1997, it felt like a homecoming, even if Cincinnati wasn’t actually home.
As a player, “I had a really special relationship with Joe Nuxall,” Brantley said.
When Brantley joined the Reds’ broadcast team in 2007, he never felt as if he was replacing Nuxall.
“I didn’t really feel like I was taking Joe’s spot,” Brantley said. “I felt like I was keeping the seat warm.”
As the Reds wrap up the season, Jeff “The Cowboy” Brantley joined The Enquirer’s “That’s So Cincinnati” podcast, where he talked about his excitement about the team’s young pitchers, the moments he remembers most about his baseball career and exactly where the cowboy nickname came from.
The nickname came, as all the best nicknames do, from one moment in time.
Back when Brantley was playing for the Reds, his footwear of choice off the baseball diamond was cowboy boots.
“We had a big game and I ended up getting a save in the game,” Brantley said. “Everybody’s back in the locker room and we’re all excited and guys are having a beer or two and just kind of sharing a bit of a moment.
“My kids had come into town, so I was telling the guys, ‘Look, I can’t stay long. I got to go.’ So I went up to shower and got dressed and they’re still all back there. And when I went back to say bye, I had my boots on. And (former Red) Lenny Harris just yells out, ‘Well, there he goes , the cowboy ran off into the sunset.’
“Well, the next day I get to the ballpark, somebody throws out the cowboy name and the next thing you know, it just kind of stuck.”
Listen to The Enquirer’s “That’s So Cincinnati” podcast on iHeart, Apple or your favorite podcast platform.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Reds radio broadcaster Jeff Brantley recalls friendship with Joe Nuxall