October 20, 1910 – July 11, 2010
Legendary Yankee announcer and ‘voice of God’ Bob Sheppard has passed away at the age of 99, just two and a half months shy of what would have been his 100th birthday.
He served as the public address announcer for three local teams in three different sports. Of course, the Yankees (1951-2007) as well as the NY Football Giants (1956-2006) as well as for St John’s Basketball and varsity Football teams until the early 1990’s. The first Yankee lineup Sheppard announced contained 8 future Hall of Famers, 5 on the New York squad alone: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto. Their opponents, the Boston Red Sox, featured Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Lou Boudreau. The first player he introduced was Dominic DiMaggio of the Red Sox.
He was a star athlete in his own right, and is in the St. John’s University Sports Hall of Fame as an athlete. He earned seven varsity letters from 1928 to 1932, three in baseball as the starting first baseman, and four in football as the starting quarterback. He was also a Professor of Speech at St John’s University, and always considered that far more important than his work as an announcer.
What I’ll miss most was the care and respect he had for the English language. He treated every syllable with the assiduousness that a museum director would give a great painting. It’s a lost art, one which people don’t pay much attention to these days. One of the reasons he retired in 2007 was the preparation involved in announcing a game, meaning he would take the time to make sure he said each name perfectly. Not everyone who announces games does it that way, yet he obviously couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. He brought grace, class and dignity to the world of Baseball and he will be missed.
To hear his farewell and announcing the final lineup at the last game in the old Yankee Stadium, click here.
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