Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bob Sheppard (1910-2010)

He was as much an icon as the many players he introduced from the public address booth at Yankee Stadium, so much so that even though he never set foot in the current Stadium, shortstop Derek Jeter requested that the distinctive voice of Bob Sheppard be heard whenever Jeter came to bat.

Sheppard, known to Yankee fans as "The Voice of God" during his 50-plus years in the booth, passed away earlier today after a lengthy illness at the age of 99. While Jeter's request will remain fulfilled for the remainder of his playing career, Sheppard's voice can still be heard doing voice-overs for the YES (Yankee Entertainment & Sports) Network, recorded during the 1st year of the network's existence in 2002. The illness forced Sheppard to retire in 2009, even though he'd last announced a live game 2 years earlier.

Sheppard was also the PA voice of the New York football Giants until 2006, announcing games at the Stadium, Yale Bowl, and Giants Stadium, which gave him something to do on a Sunday while the Yankees were on road trips in September and October. It wasn't until the last few years of his run with the Giants that I actually was able to hear him over the PA during telecasts from Giants Stadium.

Another sign of Sheppard's iconic status was the fact that the New York-Penn League's Tri-City Valleycats would hire an impressionist to mimic Sheppard when the Staten Island Yankees visited Troy in 2006 & 2008. You have to believe that more than a few people craned their necks toward the PA booth to see if Sheppard really was there. I cite the '06 & '08 seasons because those were the only times I actually heard the mimic. I am not sure about other SI Yankee visits to Troy.

Rest in peace, Bob. Heaven just hired a good man to read the roll call.

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