I went to two Yankees games during the last home week of the season: One on Monday, September 17 and one on Sunday, September 23. Noticeably absent at both of those games were Bob Sheppard. I was more than a little bit worried.
During the telecast on Friday, Sept. 21, Michael Kay informed the folks watching at home that Sheppard was out with laryngitis and would be back in time for the playoffs. Now, Sheppard is no spring chicken. He won’t admit his age but the Yankees say he is just a few days shy of 97. He’s been doing games since 1951 or all of the years that my dad has been a fan (and just one year short of my father’s entire life).
A 97-year-old coming down with laryngitis is certain not a Good Thing. Today, SI.com via the Associated Press gave an update on Sheppard in this notebook. Reading between the lines, the prognosis is not good:
Bob Sheppard, the Yankees’ public-address announcer since 1951, could miss the team’s postseason home opener Sunday night.
Sheppard wasn’t at the final homestand of the season because of laryngitis, and as of Wednesday it wasn’t clear whether “The Voice of God” will recover by the weekend. If Sheppard isn’t back, longtime backup Jim Hall will be behind the mike.
Sheppard’s birthday is reportedly Friday, October 12, and while he missed the Cubs last World Series victory by two years, he’s lived an incredibly long life. The fact that he still announces the games – even if his voice has slipped a bit over the last few years – is amazing. In fact, up until recently, he did the New York Giants games as well.
Meanwhile, Newsday’s Jim Baumbach has a few more details. According to Mary Sheppard, Bob’s wife, Bob is recovering from “a bronchial laryngitis infection.”
“It’s hanging on,”she said said. “He can talk now. But it needs rest.”
I don’t like this news. Sheppard’s been out for three weeks and any time a 97-year-old has an infection that’s “hanging on,” there’s reason to worry. The day Bob goes would be a very sad day indeed in Yankee history.