Sheppard officially calls it a career

Bob Reads a Poem

Bob Sheppard makes his final Yankee Stadium appearance. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

While nothing but a formality at this point, Bob Sheppard has officially retired. In a discussion with MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, Sheppard said that, at age 99, he won’t be returning as the Yankees’ public address announcer.

“I have no plans of coming back,” Sheppard said yesterday. “Time has passed me by, I think. I had a good run for it. I enjoyed doing what I did. I don’t think, at my age, I’m going to suddenly regain the stamina that is really needed if you do the job and do it well.”

The nonagenarian made his Yankee Stadium debut on April 17, 1951. He served as the PA announcer for around 4500 games, and his career spanned from Mickey Mantle to Reggie Jackson to Don Mattingly to Derek Jeter and everyone in between. He introduced the Yankees for 121 consecutive postseason games before coming down with a very serious bout of pneumonia in September 2007.

In talking with Hoch, Sheppard explained how, while he’s regained his health, the whole process of traveling to and from the stadium requires more stamina than he has right now. “It’s not just the two hours or three hours of baseball,” Sheppard said. “It’s the trip, the preparation, the trip home, and a long, long day. I think at my age, it’s time to accept the fact that I had a great run. A great run. And I only made a few mistakes along the way.”

Sheppard says his weight fell nearly 40 pounds to 103 during his illness, and he plans to make a trip to see the stadium in 2010. Sheppard will live on in Derek Jeter’s at-bats and in Yankee lore. We’ll miss him in the Bronx and wish the Voice of God nothing but the best.

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Now turning 99, the public announcer, Bob Sheppard, now turning 99

It’s been a while since we’ve heard any news from Bob Sheppard. Although the Yanks’ nonagenarian public address announcer in April denied reports that he was retiring, Yankee Stadium was Sheppard-less throughout its first season, and Sheppard had not been at a Yankee game since late 2007 before he fell ill with a bad bout of pneumonia. Today, is Sheppard’s birthday, and the long-time Voice of the Yankees is turning 99. The Queens native had a great run in the Bronx, and millions of us associate him with the Yankees. So wherever he is and however he is feeling, I tip my cap to the man born before World War I.

Olden named permanent temporary replacement for Sheppard

paulolden The Yankees can never replace Bob Sheppard. While the six-decade veteran of the Yankee Stadium public address booth says he’s coming back this year, the 98-year-old is recovering from a very serious bout of pneumonia, and with rumors of his retirement swirling, the Yankees have named one-time TV broadcaster Paul Olden a permanent temporary replacement for Sheppard.

Olden is a veteran of the sports world. He has filled the PA job for the last 12 Super Bowls; he served as the play-by-play man for the Devil Rays in the early 2000s; and he worked for the Yankees with Phil Rizzuto and Bobby Murcer from 1995-1996.

For the Yankees, the choice of Olden represents something of a break from past practices. Olden has a deep, sonorous that feels like a good fit for any pro sports arena, but he’s not Bob Sheppard. Last year, with Sheppard on the DL for the entire season, the Yanks went with Jim Hall, Sheppard’s understudy and imitator. Now, they’re trying to find a distinct voice to usher in a new stadium.

It really is too bad that Bob Sheppard could not be healthy enough to see in the new park. He started out broadcasting in 1951 and lived through 13 World Series championships, 18 managers, a few owners and too many pitching changes to count. While slight of build, Sheppard’s voice will stand as a baseball icon forever.

Publicly, the Yanks have said that Olden is a temporary fill in. He’ll be around only as long as Sheppard remains out. I have a feeling though this this temporary replacement may be more permanent than the Yanks anticipate.

Bob Sheppard may be close to calling it a career

Updated 4:02 p.m.: This one isn’t an April Fools joke: Bob Sheppard may be close to announcing his retirement as the Yankees’ public address speaker.

Sheppard, 98 and the Yankee announcer since 1951, has been out of commission since contracting a serious case of pneumonia in Sept. 2007, and while he had hoped to return to the Bronx, Paul Doherty, a family friend of Sheppard’s and a former agent for the Voice of God, told The Times’ Jack Curry that Sheppard no longer wants the pressure of a looming comeback. At his age, who can blame him?

Curry however could not get a confirmation from Sheppard. “I never said it,” the Yankees PA man told Curry. “I never said I’m not returning. I never, never said I’m not returning and I say it to you now.”

According to Doherty, Sheppard is stepping down for age-related reasons and not health reasons. Doherty says that Sheppard is still active and recently drove to pick up his son at the train station. The idea of a 98-year-old Sheppard behind the wheel is not a comforting one.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have not confirmed this rumor as official and have not yet named a successor to the legendary announcer. Jim Hall, the recent backup and 2008 announcer, won’t inherit the mantle, and Paul Olden will be announcing this weekend’s Yanks-Cubs exhibition games. If this is truly the end of the line for the six-decade veteran of the Yankee Stadium booth, all I can say is godspeed, Mr. Sheppard. It’s been quite a run.

Sheppard not expected at Yankee home opener

Last night, we jumped the gun a bit in reporting that Bob Sheppard would be in the booth for the Yankees’ home opener. According to his wife Mary, speaking to Newsday today, Sheppard does not yet have his doctor’s permission to rejoin the Yankees. The 98-year-old is recovering from a bad bout of pneumonia, and his family and doctor do not want to risk his health. He may rejoin the Yankees when the weather in the city is warmer.