NEW YORK -- Bob Sheppard, whose elegant introductions of stars from Joe DiMaggio to Derek Jeter at Yankee Stadium for more than a half century earned him the nickname "The Voice of God," died Sunday. He was 99.
The revered public address announcer died at his Long Island
home in Baldwin with his wife, Mary, at his side, the Yankees said.
When the team moved into new Yankee Stadium last year, it
honored him by naming the media dining room after him.
While Sheppard didn't like to give his age, a former Yankees
official confirmed in 2006 that Sheppard was born Oct. 20, 1910.
The Yankees' lineup for Sheppard's first game on April 17, 1951,
included DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, and Phil
Rizzuto. And the opponents that day, the Boston Red Sox, were led
by Ted Williams.
Sheppard became as much as a fixture in the Bronx ballpark as
the familiar white stadium facade or Monument Park, tucked behind
the blue outfield wall.
On May 7, 2000, after 50 years and two weeks on the job, the
team honored him with "Bob Sheppard Day" and put a plaque in his
honor in Monument Park. Fans gave Sheppard a standing ovation, and
legendary news anchor Walter Cronkite read the inscription. Berra,
Reggie Jackson and Don Larsen were among those who stood on the
field during the ceremonies.
"The voice of Yankee Stadium," read the plaque. "For half a
century, he has welcomed generations of fans with his trademark
greeting, 'Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Yankee Stadium."'
He also served as the stadium voice of the NFL's New York Giants
from 1956-05, and for men's basketball and football at St. John's
University, where he taught, for Army football and the Cosmos
soccer team. He also announced for the American Football League's
New York Titans at the Polo Grounds and the World Football League's
New York Stars at Downing Stadium.
But baseball is what made him famous. Babe Ruth gave Yankee
Stadium its nickname, but Sheppard gave the ballpark its sound.
He announced at 62 World Series games and a pair of All-Star
games, and introduced more than 70 Hall of Famers across his
career. It was one of them, Jackson, who dubbed Sheppard "The
Voice of God."
"A voice that you hear in your dreams, in your sleep," Braves
third baseman Chipper Jones said Sunday. "Today's a sad day."
Sheppard's player introductions remained consistent throughout
the decades, with Sheppard imbuing each name and number with a
gravitas more in keeping with a coronation than a ballpark outing:
"No. 7. Mickey Mantle. No. 7." Or even "No. 58. Dooley Womack.
Unlike the shrill shills of later generations, Sheppard
conducted himself with an understated and dignified delivery. He
employed perfect diction, befitting a man who considered his real
job teaching speech at St. John's. He graduated from the school in
1932 and later worked there for more than 25 years.
"A P.A. announcer is not a cheerleader, or a circus barker, or
a hometown screecher," the epitome of the old-school style once
said. "He's a reporter."
Sheppard's favorite Yankee Stadium moment was Larsen's perfect
game in the 1956 World Series, but his dulcet tones defined New
York sports for the second half of the 20th century and beyond. He
also was the stadium announcer for the "greatest football game
ever played," the Baltimore Colts' 23-17 sudden-death victory over
the Giants in 1958.
He was on hand when Roger Maris hit home run No. 61, when
Jackson hit three homers in a single World Series game, when the
Giants finally reached the Super Bowl. He never missed an opening
day at Yankee Stadium from 1951 until a hip injury sidelined him in
Legendary Yankees Announcer Bob Sheppard Dies
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.