“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Yankee Stadium.”
These are words we have heard from the legendary Bob Sheppard for the better part of 56 years. After a long career behind the microphone as the public address announcer at Yankee Stadium, the 99 year-old Sheppard has officially retired as of yesterday.
Sheppard had missed time during the 2007 and 2008 seasons battling sickness, and has now given up his spot behind the microphone in the Bronx. It is a sad day, but I am so thankful that we had Bob for so long.
His first day on the job was April 17, 1951, a Yankees/Red Sox game. How fitting! Among the future Hall of Fame players in the Red Sox lineup that day were Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Lou Boudreau.
The future Yankee Hall of Famers in the starting lineup included Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, and Johnny Mize.
Sheppard knows so much about how proper language should be spoken. In fact, he was a speech teacher at John Adams High School and at the college he graduated from, St. John’s University.
He felt his teaching career was more important than his job as an announcer.
Sports have always been in Sheppard’s blood. At St. John’s he earned seven varsity letters as the baseball squad’s starting first baseman and the football team’s starting quarterback.
Talk about being an outstanding athlete!
As an announcer, Sheppard pronounced everything the way it was supposed to be pronounced. He once said in a documentary, “My job as an address announcer is to inform the people that the next hitter is De-rek Je-ter–clear, concise, correct, there’s nothing wrong with it.
It’s not DEEERRREEEEKKK JEEEETEEERRRR!!!!!!!”
I have to agree with him; nobody wants to hear the announcer scream the names of the players so that we cannot understand what they are saying. We always knew what Sheppard was saying.
He also owned a unique way of announcing the players; for instance, he would say, “Now batting, third baseman, number 13, Alex Rodriguez. Number 13.” He would give you the player’s position, uniform number, name, and then uniform number again.
He had his own style. That is the trademark of someone who his great at what they do.
In the same documentary, Sheppard noted that Mantle was his favorite player to announce. The Mick once told him, “Every time Bob Sheppard announces my name, I got shivers up and down my spine.”
Sheppard responded, “So do I.”
To announce the winningest franchise in all of sports had to wonderful for Sheppard, yet to be a part of that winning for so long was probably even better for him.
When the Yankees won, so did he. Sheppard has been awarded with the World Series Championship rings for his role as the Yankees’ announcer. He was also given a well-deserved monument in the park at Yankee Stadium, dedicated by the Yanks on May 7, 2000.
His microphone has also been encased in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Yet baseball was not the only sport Sheppard was involved in.
He also served as the announcer for the New York Football Giants from 1956 through the end of the 2005 campaign. Just like he received World Series rings from the Yankees, Sheppard was honored with Super Bowl rings when the G-Men won Super Bowl XXI in 1987 and Super Bowl XXV in 1991.
The Giants played their home games at Yankee Stadium beginning in 1956, and the ever-loyal Sheppard stayed with them through their move into Giants Stadium in 1976.
Sheppard also announced football games for St. John’s before he made his debut as the Yankees’ public address announcer.
Sheppard is a man who has seen it all; American League Pennants, World Series Championships, Super Bowls, some of the greatest games ever played. And now his announcing career is at an end.
But no matter where he goes and how he goes, he will never, and I repeat NEVER be forgotten by his fans. He will always be a part of the Yankees’ family and…well, he is immortal. His legacy will always be one of dignity, class, and grace.
Reggie Jackson once called him “The Voice of God.” And he really is. Sheppard’s booming, jovial voice will always be a part of the Yankees.
On behalf of every Yankee fan in the World, THANK YOU, BOB SHEPPARD! YOU ARE TRULY A LEGEND!
“Thank you all. Please drive home safely.”