Archive for Bob Sheppard

Mar
25

Sheppard set for April 3 return

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Bob Sheppard, the fabled voice of the Yankees, missed the end of the 2007 and all of 2008 with a serious health scare. He contracted a bad case of pneumonia and saw his weight drop to 105 pounds. But Sheppard, 97, made a great recovery, and he recently told the FAN that he finally has his doctor’s permission to begin announcing Yankee games again. He’ll be in the booth come the April 3 exhibition against the Cubs. Here’s to another 57 years of Sheppard’s voice at Yankee Stadium.

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Bob Sheppard, the Yanks’ public address announcer since 1951, spoke to Ed Randall on WFAN this morning about his health and the Yanks in general. You can listen to the audio here. Sheppard says he’s back up to 145 lbs, which is where the doctors want him. He’s hopeful for an Opening Day return, but says that it all depends on his stamina. Make sure you give it listen, it’s worth it just to hear him say “stamina.” The Voice of God. (h/t Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve)

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Oct
14

Step aside Jim Hall

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(h/t Joey H)

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Sep
16

Sheppard to miss Stadium finale

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Bob Sheppard has seen more games at Yankee Stadium than anyone else in the organization, but he won’t be on hand for the historic finale this Sunday. Last year, the long-time public address announcer contracted a bad case of bronchitis and pneumonia. He missed the end of last season and has yet to appear at Yankee Stadium this year. While Sheppard had aimed to announce this Sunday’s game, Jim Baumbach reports this morning that Sheppard is still not healthy enough to put an eight-hour shift at the stadium.

In fact, Sheppard isn’t strong enough to attend the game as a guest of the Steinbrenner’s, according to Baumbach. “My heart will be up in the Bronx, but my body will be in front of the television,” he said. Sheppard, however, hopes to welcome the crowd to the new stadium in April. He is, after all, under contract for next year.

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As the final game at Yankee Stadium draws nearer, some of us wonder, what about Bob? Will the legendary Yankees PA announcer, who has had the gig since 1951, be healthy enough to lend his voice one more time? He sure hopes so, as he tells Jim Baumbach of Newsday.

“The doctor is questioning my stamina,” Sheppard said. Then he repeated the word stamina while slowly and carefully annunciating all three syllables. “Sta-min-a.”

“In other words, can I leave my home in Baldwin at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and get home at midnight and not suffer any relapse?”

One alternative Sheppard suggested would be to have current PA announcer Jim Hall sit in standby. Says Sheppard: “And if I begin to get too tired, he would be my relief speaker, like a relief pitcher.”

While we all wish Sheppard to be the man to call the final game, his health certainly is a concern. He relates that his doctor wishes him to climb the 15 steps in his house 15 times a day, which would help build his stamina. However, he is not ready for such activity at this point.

Have we already heard the last of Bob Sheppard’s voice live at the Stadium? Perhaps. That would be quite sad. I suppose the Yanks will continue to use his recording for Derek Jeter‘s introduction until No. 2 retires, though.

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Aug
26

What happened to Bob?

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Bob Sheppard 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.

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Last night, prior to the game, the Yankee Stadium crowd gave Bob Sheppard a big round of applause. His voice was the most noticeable absence of the All Star festivities, and it’s now been nearly 10 months since the Voice of God last announced a game. While Sheppard is working to return to the booth, the reality is that he’s in his late 90s and is recovering from a debilitating illness. He won’t be around forever. To that end, Darren Rovell at CNBC suggests that the Yankees should look into preserving Bob’s voice forever. The technology exists for a company to spend a whole bunch of hours recording Sheppard — approximately 10 — in order to pick up his speech patterns so that his voice could be saved digitally forever. The cost — in the six-figure range — is pocket change to the Yankees, and I sincerely hope they look into this idea. Bob Sheppard won’t be around forever; his voice filling Yankee Stadium should be.

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I was really hoping to hear Bob Sheppard announce the All Star Game next week at Yankee Stadium, but alas, it was not meant to be. The Voice of the Yankees spoke to The Star-Ledger’s Steve Politi recently and told the reporter that he will not be at the All Star Game. Jim Hall will fill in behind the PA mic instead.

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May
29

On the mend: Bob Sheppard

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Of the many injured Yankees, the one nostalgic fans miss the most is soon-to-be centenarian and long-time Voice of the Yankees Bob Sheppard. Sheppard has been on the DL, so to speak, since the end of September with a very bad illness.

But today, we learn some good news: Sheppard hopes to be back in the booth by July 1, and he definitely wants to be in the booth for the All Star Game and for the opening of the new stadium. No word on if the Yanks plan to schedule any rehab appearances for the Hall of Famer in Trenton or Scranton.

Via PeteAbe, we find a site called Busted Halo and an interview with Sheppard. Sheppard, who won’t give out his age, is rumored to be 98 years old and has been announcing games for 57 seasons. In the interview, Sheppard talks about his illness:

Up until my recent illness, I have been physically fit for somebody my age. But last January for some reason or other, life caught up with me, and I began losing weight. I had a very serious problem with my lungs because of a bronchial problem and I was hospitalized. I had lost weight. I had gotten down to 103 pounds!

He talks about returning to the Bronx:

According to the doctor, when I reach, “my fighting weight” about 145-150, he will allow me to go back to Yankee Stadium and finish the season. So my target date to be back is July 1. There is an All Star Game to be played at Yankee Stadium on July 15th and one of my goals is to be there and announce it. I did one years and years ago at Yankee Stadium but I can’t recall it. So now this would be something to remember. I do want to be there next year when we open a new Stadium. And I’d like to be the one who says, “Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen…Welcome to the NEW…Yankee Stadium.”

From the way he talks, it sounds like Sheppard’s illness was more serious than anyone had really reported. I’m glad to hear that Bob’s on the mend, and I’m eagerly awaiting his return to Yankee Stadium. It’s just not the same without him.

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Mar
28

Checking in on Bob Sheppard

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The news on Wednesday surrounding Bob Sheppard’s health was sparse but promising. A few news outlets reported that Sheppard, while planning to miss Opening Day, would be back this season as soon as his health and wife allow it.

Well, George Vecsey of The Times went one step futher, and yesterday, he published an excellent column about the Voice of the Yankees. The lede is fantastic: Vecsey calls Sheppard’s house only to have Bob answer the phone. I would probably flip out if Bob Sheppard were to answer the phone in that very distinct voice.

Sheppard, Vecsey notes, was very sick last year. He couldn’t talk; he had to go the hopsital; and he eventually found himself down to 103 pounds. At 97 — Sheppard’s reported age — that is quite the health scare.

The Yankees say they believe Sheppard will return in July even though Bob’s aiming for June. The team may opt to keep him on the DL until the All Star Game just to make sure he’s healthy. As Vecsey writes, Bob Sheppard is Yankee Stadium:

Robert Leo Sheppard has been a highlight of any trip to the big ballyard in the Bronx since opening day, April 17, 1951, when he announced the name of Joe DiMaggio right after the youngster playing right field, Mickey Mantle. Roger or Reggie or Bernie might not hit a home run on any given day, but Sheppard would deliver the starting lineups, in a voice that would make everybody else in the joint sound like we were Archie or Edith Bunker speaking some other language…

The players want to make the majors just to hear Sheppard announce their names. Reggie Jackson still hasn’t gotten over hearing Sheppard, on a busman’s holiday, do a guest inning in Anaheim, Calif., back in the late ’70s. Reggie, in the on-deck circle, nearly flipped, hearing that voice 3,000 miles from home.

Lonn Trost, the Yanks’ COO, summed it up best: “If there was a scale of importance, Bob would be at the top. We feel uncomfortable without Bob and we hope he is with us for another 118 years.”

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