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Joe Nuxhall, the longtime broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds and, in fact, the youngest man ever to pitch a major league baseball game when he did so at 15 in 1944, died last week at the age of 79.

In addition to serving as a Reds broadcaster since 1967, Nuxhall also was a well-known local “pitchman” for a number of local businesses, including Kroger.

There was a wonderful piece about Nuxhall in the Cincinnati Enquirer last week that began:

The last call Joe Nuxhall made to Kroger Co. executives came just Monday.

The famed ballplayer, broadcaster and local advertising giant was headed to the hospital, and his tone was apologetic.

"He called to say he was sorry that he couldn't be at the grand re-opening of the Beechmont Kroger," Kroger spokeswoman Meghan Glynn said. "We said, 'Joe, Joe - it's OK. Don't worry about it.' "

That phone call symbolized, more than anything else, what Joe Nuxhall was all about, said Geoff Covert, president of the Cincinnati/Dayton Division of Kroger, a company that used Nuxhall as a spokesman for more than two decades.

"His passing leaves a void in the Kroger family. We will miss him greatly as a spokesperson but more so as a friend," Covert said.

Nuxhall, whose voice was instantly recognizable and had an old-fashioned tone that inspired deep trust among consumers, was a super pitchman for two generations for companies large and small.

Whether the product was hot dog buns at Kroger, garage doors for AE Door & Window or new cars for a local dealership, Nuxhall brought brands, products and services instant credibility, and that usually led to consumer acceptance.

KC's View:
Nuxhall died last Thursday, and I made the mistake of not mentioning it on Friday when I pointed out the travails of Barry Bonds and the new contract being secured by Alex Rodriguez. No excuse, but this was mostly because Nuxhall’s voice was one I was unfamiliar with, since I’m an east coast guy…but several MNB users wrote to suggest that he is a far better representative of the game that either Bonds or A-Rod. And I agree…and found the various pieces that have been written about him to be heartwarming.