On the top row of the historic Hersheypark Arena, where Wilt Chamberlain had his famous 100-point game, 15-year-old Marty Reid was watching the Hershey Bears and doing play-by-play into a tape recorder he had received for his birthday. His best friend was his color analyst.
"A couple of times my mother would go with us and she'd say 'oh Marty, stop this, you're bothering the people around you,'" said Reid, who joined ESPN in 1982. "Luckily the people around didn't mind and would say 'no, no, let him go.'"
Reid, whose career with ESPN has included all forms of motorsports the network has covered, will join Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth as the lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN's NASCAR coverage in 2010.
The Pennsylvania native played ice hockey as a youngster and loved the sport, but he knew he'd never make it as a pro. So Reid turned his attention to broadcasting after his older brother, a disc jockey, had 13-year-old Marty cut a radio commercial with him.
"When you're 13 years old and you say you want to get into sports play by play, people say, 'oh, that's nice, next week he'll want to be a something else,'" he said.
But Reid took it seriously. "I'd do the game and take it back and listen to it over and over and over and literally practiced over and over," he said.
Reid's high school guidance counselor contacted Marietta (Ohio) College, which led to Reid being recruited to attend the broadcasting school. His experience gave him a leg up on other students, and as a freshman, he immediately started doing radio and TV play-by-play for all Marietta sports.
He moved on to do local TV sports in Columbus, Ohio, and then to ESPN, where he has worked on a variety of sports over the years, including calling one NHL game.
"By the time I was 15, people who really knew me knew I loved sports," he said. "Back then there was no ESPN, and little motorsports coverage, so I was practicing to do stick and ball sports, just like everybody else, but it all sort of worked out."
In 2010, Reid will call the action for all of ESPN's NASCAR Sprint Cup series races and many of the NASCAR Nationwide series telecasts. He was the lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN's IndyCar Series coverage and selected Nationwide series races in 2009 and will continue to cover the IndyCar series next year.
Reid replaces Dr. Jerry Punch, who will return to a role he held for more than 20 years as part of ESPN's team of pit reporters for 2010, working Cup and Nationwide races.
Ellen Siska writes about NASCAR for The York Dispatch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.