“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Yankee Stadium.”
His legacy is remembered as being one of the most iconic sports announcers in history, with one of the most distinct, smooth, clear voices to ever call the game. Reggie Jackson coined him the “Voice of God.” We will forever love and miss the sweet sounds of Bob Sheppard resounding in the Bronx.
Today marks the anniversary of Robert Leo “Bob” Sheppard’s passing in 2010, which was just months shy of his 100th birthday. He served as the Yankees PA announcer from 1951-2007, announcing over 4500 games, while also calling the New York Giants games from 1956-2006.
As a young man, he stumbled upon becoming a gunnery officer aboard a naval warship. After serving his country, he sat as chairman (“of the board”) of the speech department at John Adams public high school. He remained chairman for a quarter century, while instructing speech as a side job.
In the late 40s, a chance encounter with an executive from the ’46-’49 Brooklyn Dodgers All-America Conference football team led to his first public address job at Ebbets Field. Around that time, the baseball Yankees called him up asking if he would do PA for them.
On April 17, 1951, Mickey Mantle debuted for the Yankees. It was also Sheppard’s first game announcing. The pair performed together for more than 1200 Yankee games.
In a recent documentary on Sheppard he explained his secret to his work, “Being clear, concise, correct. The three C’s. Clear, concise, correct.”
Sheppard saw it all: Stengel/Mantle/Maris era, Don Larsen’s perfect game, Reggie Jackson and the 70s Yanks, the Joe Torre and 90s championship titles, and everything in between. He was there to call it all.
He was known for reading books in between batters at games and even into his 90’s, he would run full-speed to the elevator after the last out, in hopes to beat the crowd out of the stadium. Although, he called his last Yankee game in late 2007, his memory lives on at Monument Park, where his plaque, “The Voice of Yankee Stadium” is surrounded by all other Yankee greats.
It had been the only voice Jeter had heard announce him at home, since he broke into the majors. After Sheppard retired, Jeter insisted that a recording of Sheppard announcing his name be played as he walked up to the plate, for the rest of his career. “Now batting…the shortstop…numbah 2…Derek-Jetah…numbah 2.”
The late Bob Sheppard light-heartedly told a reporter, “I don’t go to work…I go to a game. That’s a good ending to your story, isn’t it?”
I get chills every time I watch this Bob Sheppard tribute video, have a look: