When I arrived home this afternoon, I found waiting for me in the mail the latest in a long line of Yankee Stadium tribute books. This new arrival — Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of “The House That Ruth Built” — is by Harvey Frommer, a prolific baseball scribe who once wrote for Yankees Magazine.
The introduction to Frommer’s tome is penned by none other than the Voice of God himself. That’s right; Bob Sheppard, with a picture of the soon-to-be 98-year-old in his younger, dapper days, introduces the oral history of the building in which he has probably spent more time than anyone else alive. It is a fitting way for a book of this magnitude to begin.
While I’ll put together a more formal review of Frommer’s offering over the next few weeks, just seeing Bob’s name on the cover of the book and his image on the first few pages triggered a few Yankee Stadium-related thoughts. Mostly, I realized we have heard neither hide nor hair of Bob Sheppard since he announced that he wasn’t healthy enough to announce the All Star Game. Since then, nothing. No word on his recovery; no word on his potential return. No word on anything.
Right now, the Yankees have just 16 home games left at Yankee Stadium, and with the Yanks on the outside of the playoff picture looking in right now, there’s no guarantee that Yankee Stadium will see baseball in October this year. Meanwhile, Sheppard has been out for over 11 months now, and I have to wonder if Bob won’t make it for a single game of announcing duties during the final season of the Stadium.
If indeed Mr. Sheppard doesn’t make it back this year, the Yankees’ venerable announcer will have gone out unexpectedly last September when, one day, he was too sick to make it to work. He will have missed his opportunity to send off Yankee Stadium in grand fashion, and I’m sure he’s just as disappointed about it as any of the team’s fans are.
But I’m not quite yet ready to count Bob out yet. He may be out of the public eye right now; he may still be convalescing from what sounds like a very serious illness. But when all is said and done, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Bob Sheppard in his proper place when the evening of September 21st rolls around. The Baseball Gods hopefully wouldn’t have it any other way.