Monday, July 12, 2010

The Voice of God has fallen silent.

Veteran Yankees public announcer Bob Sheppard died yesterday in Long Island. He was 99 years old and had been the Yankees' PA guy from 1951-2007. Generations of Yankees fans were shuttled in and out of the stadium by his voice and listened to him announce the games with his pitch-perfect diction. In a town celebrated for tough accents and attitude, his was a refined, classy anti-dote that made fans behave themselves and instead concentrate on the game. You knew that however good or bad the game went or however rowdy the fans might get, this was a game that was going on under adult supervision and everything would be okay. If George Steinbrenner is the Yankees' daddy, then Bob Sheppard was it's respected grandfather.

During his reign -- and what can you call a 56 year run as anything else? -- Bob Sheppard saw all the great Yankees legends play (except, I guess, for Babe Ruth): Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Thurmond Muntson, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, A-Rod -- the list goes on and on.

And while New York rose and fell and rose again during this era -- the glories of the fifies, followed by crises of the sixties and seventies, followed by the crime of the eighties, followed by recovery of the nineties, followed by 9/11 and the frustrations of the early 21st century -- Bob Sheppard remained a constant during this amazing time.

When he started his job, Vincent Impelilteri was mayor. When he retired, Michael Bloomberg was mayor. Wow.

He was a one of a kind and this town will never see the likes of him again.

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