I am pinch hitting over at The LoHud Yankees Blog. I wrote a piece about that man behind the mic and what he means to the Yankees organization. I want to thank Yankees beat writer Peter Abraham for giving me the opportunity to participate in his Pinch Hitting series.
Here is my entry:
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Yankee Stadium." The man who speaks those words has been given the name, "The Voice of Yankee Stadium" or the "Voice of God," but most fans know him as Bob Sheppard. He has been the New York Yankees public address announcer since 1951. (his debut: April 17, 1951) He was also the PA announcer for the NY Giants of the NFL from 1956-2006. Sheppard has called over 4,500 Yankees games, and has watched them win 22 AL pennants and 13 WS championships. The first lineup he ever announced contained five future HOFers: Dimaggio, Mantle, Mize, Berra, & Rizzuto. Sheppard is known for his longevity and his very unique announcing style. When a player steps up to the plate, he says: Now batting for the Yankees...the players number, his name, and his number again. (Now batting for the Yankees...#2...Derek Jeter...#2)
Sheppard was originally a speech teacher in John Adams High School & at St. John's University. He considers teaching his main job. He claims that public address announcing is his part-time job. That same part-time job has lasted 56 years for the Yankees. He believes that the most important thing any public speaker has to have is audibility. Well don't worry Bob..we hear you loud and clear!
His booming voice throughout the stadium will never be forgotten, and will always be part of Yankee Stadium lore. Young players and fans only dream of stepping up to the plate at Yankee Stadium and hearing that voice announce their name. Sheppard missed the entire final season at Yankee Stadium. Jim Hall subbed in for him throughout the season. Derek Jeter didn't feel comfortable of someone else announcing his name, so he had the organization record Mr. Sheppard's voice. He is the only Yankee with that privilege. It just shows how much the players respect him and how much it means to them. Bob Sheppard is so beloved, that they might even consider using his voice forever.
- St. John's university created an award in honor of Bob Sheppard. It's called the Sheppard Trophy, and it's given to the most outstanding student-athlete.
- His microphone has been encased in the Baseball HOF in Cooperstown, NY.
- To honor Sheppard's 50th season as the Yankees PA announcer, the team created a plaque in his honor in Monument Park.
- He has also been given World Series Championship rings and an NFL Super Bowl Championship ring honoring his role with the Yanks' and the Giants.
- Bob has also appeared in a few movies, including Anger Management, 61*, The Scout and The Bronx Is Burning. His voice can also be heard on three episodes of Seinfeld. (The Letter, The Masseuse, & The Chaperone)
Sheppard has never really mentioned how old he really is. Some sites list his birthday as October 12, 1910, which would make him 98 years-old. That is truly amazing. Mr. Sheppard has stated that he is under contract to announce the first game in the new Yankee Stadium this upcoming season. I think I can speak for all Yankee fans in saying that we wish Mr. Sheppard would get better and return to the new Yankee Stadium. It just wouldn't be the same without him.
"I have one style of speaking, ... It's the same at Yankee Stadium, at home, in the classroom, or when I lector at Mass." ~Bob Sheppard
71 Days Until Home Opener: April 16, 2009......