Sunday, July 11, 2010

Speechless (his voice bracketed greatness)

I am speechless.

“The Voice of God” is gone.

* * *

For the Fall, he was the Yankees roll call.

He introduced miracles. One by one.

His cadence would echo at Yankee Stadium. Echo.

He was a speech teacher.

He became the sound of Yankee Stadium.

* * *

Reggie Jackson called Bob Sheppard the “Voice of God” and sent the baseball to God (three times one October day).

God surprised Reggie one day, leaving Yankee Stadium, for a cameo at Fenway Park: "Now batting, num-buh 44, Reg-gie Jack-son. #44."

His echo bracketed greatness.

Ghosts invited themselves to Yankee Stadium with this echo.

* * *
In 1951, the first Yankee he introduced was Dominic Di-Mag-gio. Joe's brother.

He also introduced Joe DiMaggio in 1951.

And later, Derek Jeter, in 2001.

If he pronounced you in a new way, that would be your new name: Jeetah (Jeter).

Jeetah still uses a recording of Bob's voice to introduce his at bat.

#2 Derek Jeet-ah. #2

* * *

Bob’s first line up (Yankees vs Red Sox) – of course - had 8 future Hall of Famers.

Bob outlived great players, announcing greatness until 2009.

Living months shy of 100 years, Bob retired from Yankee Stadium at 99 in 2009, while he was still ahead. But many say he never quit, his voice still heard on old Yankee Stadium’s final day.

Bob called out most of the numbers hanging in Monument Park.

“announced the names of hundreds of players -- both unfamiliar and legendary -- with equal divine reverence.”

* * *

I first heard his voice in 1975. I first heard it live in the Bronx in 1985.

#23 Don Mat-ting-ly #23

Passing the Mantle: Mickey Mantle was Bob’s favourite player to announce.

"Mickey Mantle says 'Everytime Bob Sheppard introduced me at Yankee Stadium, I got shivers up my spine.' And I said to him, 'So did I.'" ~ Bob Sheppard

The New York Times reported Bob, “a man with a passion for poetry and Shakespeare, shunned hyperbole.”

He was also voice of the Giants – a job lasting 50 years that started on a handshake of trust. He spoke for the New York Giants from 1956 to 2006. He is only one of only two men ever to wear both a World Series ring and a Superbowl ring.

* * *

The two worst days in Yankee Stadium – no one thought would beat Lou Gehrig’s day – heard Bob Sheppard’s voice poetic for 9/11 and Captain Thurman Munson.

He wrote a poem for the Captain who crashed his plane and died trapped in fire and smoke. A full moon rose as he read this poem in Yankee Stadium.

I heard Sheppard’s voice more than anyone's on the planet. May he Rest In Peace with the greatness he introduced.

“Thank you for coming and arrive home safely."


X said...

Edited. Not sure if this worthy of one of the English language’s greatest masters of diction. He was also a succinct poet who biographed many great people in poem. Bob, if you hear this echo, sorry if it’s too long.

X said...

#161. Bob Sheppard. #161.