Bob Sheppard: Wikis

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Bob Sheppard
Born Robert Leo Sheppard
October 20, 1910 (1910-10-20) (age 99)
Richmond Hill, Queens,
New York, United States
Occupation Announcer
Years active 1951—2007

Robert Leo "Bob" Sheppard (born October 20, 1910) is the former public address announcer for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball from 1951 to 2007, and was the public address announcer for the New York Giants of the National Football League from 1956 to 2006.

In his time with the Yankees Sheppard announced over 4,500 Major League Baseball games, seeing the Yankees capture 22 American League pennants and 13 World Series championships. Yankee Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson dubbed him "the Voice of God".

Contents

Youth

Sheppard was born in 1910[1] in Richmond Hill, a section of the borough of Queens, New York City. A U.S. Naval Officer in World War II, Lt. Sheppard commanded shipboard gunnery crews in the United States Pacific Fleet (1942–1945).

Throughout his career, Sheppard kept his age a secret, once ending an interview when asked the question twice. He graduated from Saint John's Preparatory School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn in 1928, and graduated from St. John's University in 1932, where he was president of his senior class.

Sheppard was enshrined in the St. John's University Sports Hall of Fame, where he earned seven varsity letters from 1928 to 1932, three in baseball as the starting first baseman and four in football as the starting quarterback.

He earned his Master's degree from Columbia University in 1933.

Teaching career

Sheppard was originally a speech teacher at John Adams High School, later at his alma mater, St. John's. He was speech and debate coach for Sacred Heart Academy's Forensic Team in Hempstead, New York. Sheppard would continue to serve St. John's as a PA announcer for sporting events, including men's basketball and varsity football, into the 1990s.

Sheppard maintains that his work as a professor of speech is far more important than his work as an announcer. He said that as an announcer, "All I have to recommend is longevity."

Public address announcing

Sheppard first worked as a public address announcer for football games at St. John's. He moved on to the Brooklyn Dodgers of the All-America Football Conference. His work was remembered by the Yankee front office, and he debuted as Yankee PA announcer on April 17, 1951, with the Yankees' home opener, a win over the Boston Red Sox. In 1956, when the New York Giants football team moved into Yankee Stadium, he began announcing their games as well, staying with them for their move into Giants Stadium.

The first Yankee lineup Sheppard announced contained eight future Hall of Famers, five on the New York squad alone: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto. Their opponents, the Boston Red Sox, featured Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Lou Boudreau. The first player he introduced was Dominic DiMaggio.[2] He was initially paid $15 per game or $17 for a doubleheader.[2]

Sheppard is known for his distinctive announcing style, which has become a part of Yankee Stadium's lore. He began each game by saying, "Good evening... ladies and gentlemen... and welcome... to Yankee Stadium," employing a peculiar but effective cadence he developed to allow the echos of his words to reverberate around the cavernous original Yankee ballpark. He signaled in-game announcements with the polite dictate, "Your attention please, ladies and gentlemen."

He presented the performance of The Star-Spangled Banner by saying, "Ladies and gentlemen... would you please rise... And now... to honor America... please join... (name of performer)... as he (or she, or they) sing(s)... our national anthem"...." In a similar manner, Sheppard began the seventh inning stretch by saying, "Ladies and gentlemen... would you please rise... And now... please offer... a moment of silent prayer... for the service men and women... who are stationed around the globe... and especially remember... those who have lost their lives... defending our freedom...and our way of life." Then he introduced the performance of "God Bless America", usually the 1938 recording of Kate Smith, sometimes a live performance.

Before a player's first at-bat, Sheppard announced his position, uniform number, name, and number again. For each following at-bat, Sheppard announced only the position and name.

Sheppard frequently cited Mickey Mantle as one of his favorite names to announce. Said Sheppard, "Mickey Mantle says 'Everytime Bob Sheppard introduced me at Yankee Stadium, I got shivers up my spine.' And I said to him, 'So did I.'"

During the 1985 season, the Yankees were in a tight race for the American League Eastern Division title with the Toronto Blue Jays. Before the first game of a key four-game series with the Jays that September, Sheppard introduced opera singer Robert Merrill, who often sang the National Anthem at Yankee games from the 1960s through the 1990s. Merrill proceeded to sing the Canadian National Anthem, O, Canada, as had been done in Major League Baseball since the Montreal Expos joined the sport in 1969. Many Yankee fans booed. Before the next game, Sheppard reminded fans of how Canada was America's ally in two World Wars, a partner in NATO, and had helped get some of the American hostages out of Iran, imploring fans that their anthem should be respected as they do ours.

Sheppard is also a poet of note, and read a poem he wrote in memory of Yankee catcher Thurman Munson before the team's first game after Munson's August 2, 1979 death. Another poem served as a tribute to Roger Maris' 61st home run in 1961. He read aloud to Stadium fans the inscriptions on plaques the Yankees dedicated in Monument Park, one of which now honors him.

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Sheppard's sixth decade

2002 season

In 2002, Sheppard's voice appeared in on air promos for the Yankee's new cable channel, the YES Network. These remain in use today.

2005 season

Sheppard retired as the voice of the Giants following the end of the 2005 Giants season. His final regular season game was the Giants' final home game of the 2005 season, a win versus the Kansas City Chiefs on December 17, 2005. His final playoff game was the Giants' loss against the Carolina Panthers on January 8, 2006. He worked for fifty years on a handshake agreement with Giants owner Wellington Mara. Sheppard was replaced by long-term back-up Jim Hall.

2006 season

On April 11, 2006, Sheppard missed his first Yankees home opener since 1951. He threw out his hip at his Long Island home the day before and was unable to attend the game; Jim Hall filled in for him on the team's opening homestand, with the assistance of Sheppard's youngest son, Christopher. Sheppard returned to the microphone on the next Yankee homestand, Friday, April 21. All-Star shortstop and Yankee captain Derek Jeter requested a recording of Sheppard's voice announcing his name for any future occasion where Sheppard was unable to do; the recording was made and will be used for the rest of Jeter's career.

Sheppard is thrilled with this: "It has been one of the greatest compliments I have received in my career of announcing. The fact that he wanted my voice every time he came to bat is a credit to his good judgment and my humility.[3]

2007 season

Due to a bronchial infection, Bob Sheppard did not announce the 2007 ALDS games at Yankee Stadium. Jim Hall subbed in for the two home games in which the Yankees hosted.[4]

2008 season

Sheppard's health did not permit him to return to the Yankee Stadium announcing booth for the entire 2008 season, the final season in the original Yankee Stadium. On March 26, Sheppard announced his intention to return at some point during the season. "I don't know when it will be, but it will be," he said, according to the New York Daily News. Jim Hall filled in for Sheppard as usual, with the exception of granting Derek Jeter's wish to have Sheppard's recording played for Jeter's at-bats.

Sheppard was widely expected to return to the booth for the 2008 All-Star Game, which was to be played at Yankee Stadium, but on July 9, he announced his health would not permit him to perform his duties at that game.[5][6]

In early September, Sheppard announced his intention to be at the mike for the final game at Yankee Stadium on September 21.[7] However, the New York Times reported on September 19 that Sheppard has opted not to attend, saying, "I don't have my best stuff." [8] Sheppard did record the announcement of the entire starting line-up that was played over the P.A. prior to the start of the final game.

On September 20, once the game between the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles became official, a video of Sheppard pulling a lever changing the number of home games remaining on the stadium's Countdown Clock from 2 to 1 was shown on Yankee Stadium's Diamond Vision. This video was taped the previous day at Sheppard's home on Long Island, New York.

2009 season

On April 1, 2009, the New York Times reported that, according to longtime friend and agent Paul Doherty, Bob Sheppard would retire from his role as public address announcer.[9] However, in an article posted on the official New York Yankees website, Mr. Sheppard's son, Paul Sheppard, stated through Yankees PR director Jason Zillo that his father had no intention to retire.[10]

The Yankees announced on April 15 that former team broadcaster Paul Olden would replace Sheppard on a temporary basis. On November 27, 2009, Sheppard officially announced his retirement as the Yankees Public Address announcer. [11]

Sheppard resides in Baldwin, New York.

Sheppard's plaque at Monument Park

Legacy

St. John's University annually awards the Sheppard Trophy to the most outstanding student-athlete as one of its highest awards.

Sheppard has been awarded both World Series Championship rings, and NFL Super Bowl Championship ring honors in his role with the Yankees and the football Giants. The only other person to share this honor was the late Bill King, the long-time radio play-by-play voice of the Oakland Raiders and Oakland Athletics.

Sheppard has been honored by having his microphone encased in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. On May 7, 2000, in celebration of his 50th season as the Yankees' PA announcer, the team dedicated a plaque in his honor, to be placed in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The plaque calls him "The Voice of Yankee Stadium." Former CBS Evening News anchorman Walter Cronkite served as the public-address announcer during the ceremony.

Sheppard's voice can be heard on three episodes of Seinfeld:

Sheppard appeard in the films Anger Management, 61*, and The Scout, as well as ESPN drama The Bronx Is Burning.

Sheppard's voice and traditional greeting, "Good Evening, Welcome To Yankee Stadium", were used in the Bugler's Dream television commercial for New York City's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.[12]

New York born Comedian Robert Klein's imitation of Sheppard, complete with simulated echo, was an intregal part of one of Klein's early routines.

Notes

External links


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