The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pinch hitting: Zell’s Pinstripe Blog

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Feb 05, 2009 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

The pinch hitter series comes to an end today with one one final post. It’s from Kevin of Zell’s Pinstripe Blog.

Kevin has been blogging since March of 2008. He grew up a die-hard Yankees fan on Long Island and is 17. He said he believes Phil Hughes is the real deal.

Here is his post:

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“Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Yankee Stadium.” The man who speaks those words has been given the name, “The Voice of Yankee Stadium” or the “Voice of God,” but most fans know him as Bob Sheppard. He has been the New York Yankees public address announcer since 1951. He was also the PA announcer for the NY Giants of the NFL from 1956-2006. Sheppard has called over 4,500 Yankees games, and has watched them win 22 AL pennants and 13 World Series championships. The first lineup he ever announced contained five future HOFers: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto.

Sheppard is known for his longevity and his very unique announcing style. When a player steps up to the plate, he says: Now batting for the Yankees, the players number, his name, and his number again. Now batting for the Yankees … Number 2 … Derek Jeter … Shortstop … Number 2.

Sheppard was originally a speech teacher in John Adams High School and at St. John’s University. He considered teaching his main job. He claims that public address announcing is his part-time job. That same part-time job has lasted 56 years for the Yankees. He believes that the most important thing any public speaker has to have is audibility.

His booming voice throughout the stadium will never be forgotten, and will always be part of Yankee Stadium lore. Young players and fans only dream of stepping up to the plate at Yankee Stadium and hearing that voice announce their name. Sheppard missed the entire final season at Yankee Stadium. Jim Hall subbed in for him throughout the season. Derek Jeter didn’t feel comfortable of someone else announcing his name, so he had the organization record Mr. Sheppard’s voice. He is the only Yankee with that privilege. It just shows how much the players respect him and how much it means to them. Sheppard is so beloved, that they might even consider using his voice forever.

St. John’s created an award in honor of Sheppard. It’s called the Sheppard Trophy, and it’s given to the most outstanding student-athlete. His microphone has been encased in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and to honor Sheppard’s 50th season as the Yankees’ PA announcer, the team created a plaque in his honor in Monument Park.

He has also been given World Series championship rings and an NFL Super Bowl Championship ring honoring his role with the Yanks’ and the Giants.

Bob has also appeared in a few movies, including Anger Management, 61*, The Scout and The Bronx Is Burning. His voice can also be heard on three episodes of Seinfeld.

Sheppard has never really mentioned how old he really is. Some sites list his birthday as October 12, 1910, which would make him 98. That’s amazing. Mr. Sheppard has stated that he is under contract to announce the first game in the new Yankee Stadium this upcoming season. I think I can speak for all Yankee fans in saying that we hope Mr. Sheppard will get better and return to the new Yankee Stadium. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.

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Thanks, Kevin and thanks to all 35 of the pinch hitters who posted on the blog since the start of the year. I thought we had some great posts (and, um, some not so great ones) and they generated thousands of comments. We’ll do this again sometime.

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