Bob Sheppard, 1910-2010

Bob Sheppard's Booth

Bob Sheppard's booth in Yankee Stadium

The great announcer Bob Sheppard has died, but I hope the “dignity of the Yankees” that Reggie Jackson refers to in the video (below) continues.  He was a really great part of being a fan of the team, and as a New Yorker who lived in California for a while, I was able to tell a lot of people who’d never been to the Stadium about his legend.  So many games.  I really can’t help but think of the Giants football game, however, where he was admonishing the fans to stop throwing snowballs.  It was one moment where you might have heard some emotion in his voice (he was very serious), but 175 fans were ejected that day too.

At a Staten Island Yankee game on Saturday night, John Souchack and I recalled many moments over the years, and not knowing the news that would come Sunday morning, included Bob Sheppard moments our discussion (along with Thurman, Celerino Sanchez, Aaron Small, Andre Robertson, Chien-Ming Wang, Claudell Washington and even Robert Merrill!).   He was as much a part of the team as any player and in the countless tributes (I especially liked George Vecsey’s personality profile and Bill Madden’s extensive obit), writers have mentioned just a handful of mistakes during his 50+ years, about the same number of games he missed too.

Wallace Matthews’ sensitive tribute for ESPN New York:

Bugs Bunny.

In 1997, when he missed his first Opening Day in many years, and in the process, finally revealed his age. I wrote, “at 97, Bob Sheppard is missing opening day at Yankee Stadium, the last Opening Day ever at what we will soon refer to as “old Yankee Stadium.” Bob Sheppard is one of the best things about the Yankees. Reggie, Jeter, DiMaggio and all the others have paid tribute to him over the years. Al-va-ro Es-PI-no-sa, Shi-gi-to-shi Ha-se-ga-wa, as well as average players were some highlights I recall and his stern lecture during the Giants game for fans to stop throwing snowballs on the field. May he get well soon, he’s been fighting this cold since the end of last year. Last night during the postponed opener, they played a tape of Sheppard introducing Derek Je-ter. I hope we get to hear him again live soon.”

Bob Sheppard Introduces the 1986 Giants

Bob Sheppard was like a dinosaur at the Museum of Natural History or the Empire State Building, an icon of New York. He probably couldn’t stand to see his great echo chamber, Yankee Stadium, torn down, and it’s not a coincidence that he barely outlived the place.  Nevertheless, Bob Sheppard’s voice will resound in my mind for the rest of my life.

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