Warning: This article contains reference to a slur from a direct quote which we have censored.
“Hot” microphones, or moments where broadcasters aren’t aware their microphones are transmitting to the viewing audience, have led to a whole lot of problematic accidentally–transmitted comments over the years. The latest comes from long-time Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman on a Fox Sports Ohio Reds broadcast Wednesday night, with this comment coming in the top of the seventh of the first game of a doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals. Here’s what Brennaman had to say there, with the broadcast apparently coming back from break before he expected it to:
Thom Brennaman surprises absolutely nobody pic.twitter.com/kZBWk1gxRJ
— Jackson "Dill Pickleson" Vose (@JV__19) August 19, 2020
“One of the f*g capitals of the world. Reds Live, the pregame show, presented by Ray St. Clair Roofing…”
That’s a spectacularly odd comment. And while Brennaman obviously didn’t think he was on air here, it’s still wild to think of a long-time baseball broadcaster saying this while he’s wearing a microphone. And it’s not even clear what he was referencing. Of course, “f*g” is a long-standing gay slur, and there are some Kansas City associations there (including a Blazing Saddles quote), but it’s a less-obvious place to reference with a comment about gay people than, say, San Francisco (something that’s come up before). This isn’t Brennaman’s first hot mic incident, either (he created some controversy with a “This guy sucks” comment in 2013), and it’s not the first silly thing he’s said on-air this year (earlier this season, he mistakenly declared his former neighbor, former MLB player Jack Clark, dead).
At any rate, this is a phenomenally stupid thing to say on the air in 2020, even if Brennaman didn’t know he was on the air. We’ll update if there’s any apology from him or statement from Fox Sports Ohio.
Update: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, August 19: MLB.tv has pulled the broadcast of the first game here, which included that clip of Brennaman’s comments.
Update: 9:20 p.m. Eastern, August 19: Here’s Brennaman’s on-broadcast apology, briefly interrupted so he could call a home run. It ended with him leaving the booth and Jim Day taking over.
Thom Brennaman’s apology. pic.twitter.com/wp6PD8DBnC
— Michael Ritter (@MikeSteveRitter) August 20, 2020
“As Holland takes over on the mound, I made a comment earlier tonight that I guess went out over the air that I am deeply ashamed of. If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say from the bottom of my heart that I am so very, very sorry. I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith, as there’s a drive into deep left field by Castellanos, that will be a home run, and so that will make it a 4-0 ballgame.”
“I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again, I don’t know if it’s going to be for the Reds, I don’t know if it’s going to be for my bosses at Fox. I want to apologize to the people who sign my paycheck, for the Reds, for Fox Sports Ohio, for the people I work with, for anybody I’ve offended here tonight. I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am, it never has been, and I’d like to think I could have some people, maybe, that could back that up. I am very, very sorry, and I beg for your forgiveness. Jim Day will take you the rest of the way home.”
Update: 11:46 p.m. Eastern: Here’s the Reds’ statement:
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 20, 2020