The Voice

Back in the late nineties when I attended Yankees games on a quasi-regular basis, the Stadium took on the most peculiar echo during the reading of the Yankees’ starting lineup.  Bob Sheppard, who at that point had been the Stadium’s announcer for more than 40 years, would read the lineups.  During his pauses, most of the male fans in attendance (myself included) along with a few creative beer vendors would repeat the announcement, trying to mimic Sheppard’s distinctive voice and the specific order of each spot in the lineup (batting fourth, the Centerfielder, number fifty-one, Bernie Williams, number fifty-one).  But no matter how hard the crowd tried, there was only one Bob Sheppard.

Today, the Yankees announced that Bob Sheppard, who stopped announcing at the Stadium three years ago, died at home.  At the end, he announced games at the Stadium for 56 years, not to mention years as the PA announcer for the New York (football) Giants and several other NY-metro area sports teams.

In the last 10 years or so, announcers at minor league (and unfortunately) major league stadia have been going too over the top in their introductions, sounding more like they’re announcing the main event of WrestleMania than a baseball game.  But Sheppard didn’t follow the trend.  Sheppard announced each players’ name as the individual player wanted it to be announced.  Marty Noble has a great article on about Sheppard’s fastidiousness and how he brought life to the words coming out of the speakers at Yankee Stadium.

All I can say is that when I went to the New Stadium last year for a game, the thing that bugged me the most about the new place was that Sheppard wasn’t there.  The team will still be the Yankees, and the new Stadium is their home.  But there was only one Bob Sheppard.

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