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.

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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.

Sheppard set for April 3 return

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.

Sheppard hopes to be ready for Opening Day

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)

Sheppard to miss Stadium finale

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.