Bob Sheppard, who was the public address announcer at Yankee Stadium for nearly sixty years died today just a few weeks short of his 100th birthday:
Bob Sheppard, whose elegant intonation as the public-address announcer at Yankee Stadium for more than half a century personified the image of Yankee grandeur, died Sunday at his home in Baldwin, on Long Island. He was 99.
His death was confirmed by his son, Paul.
From the last days of DiMaggio through the primes of Mantle, Berra, Jackson and Jeter, Sheppard’s precise, resonant, even Olympian elocution — he was sometimes called the Voice of God — greeted Yankee fans with the words, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Yankee Stadium.”
“The Yankees and Bob Sheppard were a marriage made in heaven,” said his son Paul Sheppard, a 71-year-old financial adviser. “I know St. Peter will now recruit him. If you’re lucky enough to go to heaven, you’ll be greeted by a voice, saying, ‘Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to heaven!’ ”
In an era of blaring stadium music, of public-address announcers styling themselves as entertainers and cheerleaders, Sheppard, a man with a passion for poetry and Shakespeare, shunned hyperbole.
“A public-address announcer should be clear, concise, correct,” he said. “He should not be colorful, cute or comic.”
Sheppard was also the public-address announcer for the football Giants from 1956 through 2005, first at Yankee Stadium and then at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands.
He signed a new two-year contract with the Yankees in March 2008 but was not at the stadium that season, when he was recovering from illness that brought a severe weight loss. His longtime backup, Jim Hall, replaced him.
Sheppard did not feel strong enough to attend the ceremonies marking the final game at the old Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21, 2008, but he announced the Yankee starting lineup that night in a tape recording. During the season, his recorded voice had introduced Derek Jeter at the plate, a touch the Yankee captain requested to honor Sheppard
If you’ve been to Yankee Stadium, it’s hard to forget Sheppard’s voice echoing through the place, he’ll be missed.
Here’s a video of his announcement of that final lineup at the House That Ruth Built:
And here’s a tribute video the Yankees did in 2000 for Bob Sheppard Day: