When I was younger, I used to love going to games at Yankee Stadium. There I would see my baseball heroes win games, I would almost always go on a giveaway day, and it was a big thrill. There was a distinct feeling in the air at Yankee Stadium. People cheering, filling out the scorecard, the hot dogs and mustard, the tension of the game, the grandeur of the architecture, I just loved it. It was a part of my youth that was most defining and enjoyable.
Now, as I grow up, I find pieces of my youth slipping away with the inevitable march of time. The latest is Bob Sheppard. Mr. Sheppard was the public address announcer of Yankee Stadium. He started in 1951 and just announced that he does not plan to return to Yankee Stadium (he had taken the past couple of years off for health reasons, only doing pre-recorded stuff). He has announced the names of all the greats, from Joe DiMaggio through Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Phil Rizzutto, Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Elston Howard, Roger Maris, Roy White, Sparky Lyle, Graig Nettles, Chris Chambliss, Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Catfish Hunter, Goose Gossage, Dave Rhigetti, Dave Winfield, Don Mattingly, Steve Sax, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neil, David Cone, Andy Pettit, El Duque, Mariano Rivera, and countless more.
A professor of speech, his steady, mannered tones, announcing the number, position, and name of every player was as much a part of the Yankee Stadium Experience as the sunset over the upper deck, the echo of the cheering fans, and the playing of "New York, New York" after every game.
When Jerry Seinfeld was the guest announcer for a game, he did his best to imitate Mr. Sheppard. Legend has it that Bob would get very upset a Phil Rizzutto for such mangling of the English language as "he slud into second base."
He is 99 years old and was working at a job he obviously loved. how can you beat that?
Here is the news announcement on Major League Baseball's website.