All things New York are easy targets for most of us, given the flow of arrogance, given the thinking that all things begin and end in one of the city boroughs.
For 56 years, one exception was Bob Sheppard, a public address announcer of uncharacteristic reserve and style. Now 99-years-old and in failing health, he’s told the New York press that he’s done introducing major league players at Yankees Stadium in his eloquant voice.
“I have no plans of coming back,” Sheppard said. “Time has passed me by, I think. I had a good run for it. I enjoyed doing what I did. I don’t think, at my age, I’m going to suddenly regain the stamina that is really needed if you do the job and do it well.”
Sheppard began his career behind the microphone on April 17, 1951 and stayed on the job until 2007.
During that span, players loved what he’d do with their names. Unlike louder, more modern announcers who’d hurl them out with bravado, Sheppard made introductions sound respectful.
In New York, imagine that. More than one player asked Sheppard to tape his introduction. Sheppard was so revered that – after his departure two years ago – Derek Jeter asked that any time he was introduced to the crowd at Yankees Stadium, it be done via a tape from Sheppard.
For the last few decades, the press dining room at the ballpark in the Bronx always had a table reserved for Sheppard. While writers often stopped by to say hello, sitting at that table was an honor afforded friends.
He never did play-by-play, never sought a different position with the Yankees. When he went on the field, it was to ask a player how he wanted his name pronounced, not to get autographs.
As a voice, he’ll be missed. As a man of quiet dignity and grace at a ballpark where both were rare, he’ll be treasured.
And now, a few post-Thanksgiving links:
- Pittsburgh is hoping shortstop and former Mariner Ronny Cedeno can improve his defense this spring - and they’re counting on former Mariners infield coach Carlos Garcia to help make it happen.
- Now that Toronto has the attention of the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels, the Blue Jays are said to be asking for a big-league bat, a major league ready arm and prospects for pitcher Roy Halladay. Good luck.
- Jamie Moyer remains hospitalized in Philadelphia, and a little cranky about it, but his situation is neither life nor career-threatening at this point.
- When is it potential disaster when your checking account balance dips under $167,00? When you’re Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and have a team payroll of more than $100 million.
- John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle has a detailed look at what the Giants are facing as two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum – who made $650,000 last season – approaches arbitration. Yes, all of baseball is watching.
- One-time Mariners batting coach and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor sat beside American League MVP Joe Mauer on a flight to Arizona recently. What did the two talk about? Molitor says a lot of passengers would have liked his seat.