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Monday, July 12, 2010

The voice of my childhood

His voice resonated throughout my household as a child. My father and I would impersonate some of his most famous calls. Among our favorites were, “Now batting…number two…Derek Jee-Tah…number two,” and “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Yankee Stadium.”

Sunday, July 11, 2010, the baseball community lost its voice. The New York Yankees Public Address Announcer, Bob Sheppard, died at his home in Baldwin, NY at the age of 99.

Growing up in Chester, NY, I became a devout New York Yankees fan. As a young baseball player, my dream was to have my name announced by Mr. Sheppard as I walked into the batter box of Yankee Stadium. While playing in my backyard or in the school yard with friends, we would often announce ourselves in a Sheppard-esque manner. My personalized call was, “Now batting…number 23…Robert Demetrious…number 23.” Unfortunately, due to the retirement of Don Mattingly’s number (my favorite player), I was unable to become a professional baseball player.

As I have stated in previous blog entries, my grandfather (to whom this blog is dedicated), introduced me to the tradition, the pride, and the honor of the New York Yankees. Mr. Sheppard represented these three attributes as well as anyone throughout his life. He is a true Yankee.

Throughout his 56 years of service behind the mic, Mr. Sheppard brought joy to millions, leaving a legacy that will forever stand the test of time. The vividness, pitch, tone and clarity of his distinguished voice will never fade. Though he is no longer with us on earth, his soul, his spirit, and his true love for the game of baseball will live on within all of us forever. We have been blessed to have the opportunity of listening to “The Voice of God” for 56 wonderful years.

Mr. Sheppard is not retiring though; he’s actually calling a game tonight. The home team’s lineup includes Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Thurman Munson. His opening statement will be along the lines of, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Great baseball field in the sky.”

Have fun Mr. Sheppard, and thank you for being the voice of my childhood.

I have included a link to a youtube video tribute to Bob Sheppard. Enjoy!

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