John Sterling’s consecutive game streak coming to an end amid health concerns

What will a Yankees radiocast be without the flamboyant, often annoying, stylings of John (Pa Pinstripe) Sterling?

We’re about to find out Thursday when Sterling misses a broadcast (Yankees-Rays) for the first time since he joined the Yankees Radio Network in 1989. The streak is admirable, a testament to Sterling’s durability and love of the gig.

There is something more important here. And that’s John Sterling’s health.

According to Yankees sources, it’s uncertain how long he will be away from the microphone. The sources said Sterling’s doctors know what the issue is but now have to treat it.

“We have been very concerned about his noticeable weight loss,” the source said. “Our worries were compounded because in the past, John steadfastly refrained from going to the doctor’s office.”

That has all changed. Sterling, who is still fond of good martinis and cigarettes, has dealt with the health issue by seeing multiple doctors and receiving treatment during the season, according to sources. All this leads to uncertainty. Sterling turns 81 on July 4th, the same day the streak ends.

The Yankees, who have final approval over their radio/TV voices, have yet to work any younger voices into their radio mix with an eye on preparing for when Sterling and Suzyn (Ma Pinstripe) Waldman, 72, decide to pack it in. Ryan Ruocco,32, will fill-in for Sterling in Tampa teaming with Waldman. Will Sterling’s absence force the suits to focus on what the future of the Bombers radio booth will be?

Like him, love him, or loathe him, Sterling, through his egocentric presentations; his concocted home run fandangos, musical interludes and botched calls (“It is high… it is far… it is…..caught by the second baseman in short right field. Suzyn, the wind really got hold of that ball.”) has authored a one-of-a-kind broadcast that cannot be heard in any major league city. He has also benefited from Valley of the Stupid Gasbags hyping his HR calls.

With Waldman, the human safety net by his side, Sterling has the ultimate vocal counterpuncher who often saves him from himself. And when she does, Sterling is mostly oblivious. It’s funny.

Bottom line:

Whenever the Yankees make that change in the radio booth, it’s going to be a different sound, not as funny, not as spontaneous, not as infuriating, and not delivered by anyone who loves the game — and the Yankees — as much as Sterling and Waldman do.

So, when Sterling finally recognizes his health is more important than a streak he coveted, you know this is serious business. The baseball life is what defines him as a person. Sterling believes he can go on forever.

And why not? Like all those voices of summer there is something mystical. Every night, they travel through space and time; From the car, to the beach blanket, to listening to Sterling on the porch calling a late game in Anaheim, frantically trying to lower the volume because you know he’s about to scream: “The Yankees win……The Yankees winnnnnnnnnnn! “

Here’s hoping Sterling’s medical hiatus is a short one. There are more journeys to take.

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