Now batting for the Yankees: Number 2, Derek Jeter, number 2. Bob Sheppard Day, May 7, 2000.

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter
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With all the offseason acquisitions, the arbitration-eligible player raises and the general goings-on creating such excitement for the coming season, one thing never changes, and that is its deep history and pride in the Yankees way and its legendary players and Yankee Stadium itself.   On one day in May 2000, the Yankees celebrated the legendary voice of Public Address announcer Bob Sheppard.

“Now batting for the New York Yankees, number 2, Derek Jeter, number 2”. For almost 59 years, the distinctive voice of Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard billowed out from the announcer’s booth. When you heard that voice, you knew you were in Yankee Stadium. For 59 years before each game, you would hear the haltingly distinctive voice welcome you: “Ladies and Gentlemen ……..Welcome………to Yankee Stadium”.

Bob Sheppard was a New Yorker, born on October 20, 1910, in the Richmond Hills neighborhood of Queens. He attended Saint John’s Preparatory in Brooklyn and went to St. John’s University on an Athletic Scholarship. He played first base for the baseball team and was a left-handed quarterback on the football team. He earned seven varsity letters from 1928 to 1932. Upon graduation, he would attend Columbia to get his masters in speech. After 1933 Sheppard began his Athletic career playing semiprofessional football on Long Island with the Valley Stream Red Riders and the Hempstead Monitors. At night he would put his Masters in speech to good use. He taught speech at Cleveland High School in Queens. During World War II, he served as a Navy gunner on cargo ships in the Pacific theater.

After his time in the Navy, he would continue his career in speech, leading debate teams, becoming Chairman of the Speech Department at the Queens John Adams High School, and teaching public speaking at St. John’s University. His teaching jobs would overlap his announcing career for the first 25 years. He would always say that his jobs in teaching were always more important then any accolades he would receive for his announcing. In 1951 he would become the public address announcer at Yankee Stadium. In 1956 he would become the announcer for the New York Giants football team, a job he would hold until 2006 when his health began to deteriorate. He would last at Yankee Stadium for another year before his 56-year career as the voice of the Yankees would come to an end. He never announced his retirement, so Yankees fans always hoped for his return. That was not to be as he would pass away on July 11, 2010, just nine days short of his 100th birthday and two days before the death of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. He left his wife Mary and their four children.

On May 7, 2000, the Yankees would hold Bob Sheppard Day at Yankee Stadium, celebrating his 50th Anniversary as the Yankee Stadium Public Address Announcer. In attendance celebrating him were the likes of Phil Rizzuto, Perfect Game winner Don Larson, Yogi Berra, David Cone, Bobby Mercer, Riggie Jackson, and his wife Mary and their children. Another distinctive voice would be introduced to speak about Bob Sheppard’s career. Walter Cronkite, he would speak to how many things had changed in the world, but not Bob Sheppard. The Yankees would show a video of the remembrances of Derek Jeter, Reggie Jackson, Tommy John, and others, and what it meant to them to hear Bob announce their name and number. During his long career, he would announce such famous players as Joe DiMaggio, Mike Mantle, Roger Maris, Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, and so many others. After his death, Derek Jeter would not step to the plate until a recording of Bob’s voice introduced him to the hitter’s box.

On this day, Bob would receive several gifts, including trips, framed art, a new car from the Yankees, and a proclamation declaring this day Bob Sheppard Day in New York City by the City of New York. But all the gifts would be overshadowed by the Baseball Hall of Fame enshrining his microphone in the history of Baseball. The New York Yankees also enshrined him with a plaque in Monument Park. The plaque would state, “Bob Sheppard, public address announcer, the voice of Yankee Stadium, for a half-century his voice has welcomed generations of fans with his trademark reading, Ladies and gentlemen welcome to Yankee Stadium. His clear, concise, and correct vocal style announced hundreds of players both unfamiliar and legendary with equal divine reverence making him as synonymous with Yankee Stadium as its copper facade and Monument Park”.

Yankee fans will not soon forget the legendary voice of Bob Sheppard. I, for one, believe not only his microphone but Bob himself should be inducted into the Broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  “Now batting for the New York Yankees, number 2, Derek Jeter, number 2”. Rest in peace Bob, knowing that Yankee fans everywhere loved you and still do, for what you have meant to the New York Yankees.