Bob Sheppard, the beloved announcer for Yankees games for 57 years, died at age 99 in his home in Baldwin, Long Island. Sheppard's delivery was, as we described last year, "deliberately slow, with each syllable pronounced," and he introduced players including Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Frank Gifford, Reggie Jackson, Lawrence Taylor, Chris Mullin, and Derek Jeter, as announcer for the Yankees and Giants.
His first day on the job was April 17, 1951, which Newsday points out was Joe DiMaggio's final opening day and Mickey Mantle's first. Sheppard retired from announcing Giants games in 2005 (he hated the NJ traffic) and Yankees games in April 2009 (illness prevented him announcing regularly since 2007).
The Daily News writes, "Reggie Jackson is credited with aptly dubbing Sheppard 'the Voice of God' for his introduction of players in a resonant baritone, delivered with perfect elocution at Yankee Stadium... Through the years, Sheppard's signature introductions - 'Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome…to Yankee Stadium, here are the lineups: Batting first, num-buh eighteen, Johnny Da-mon, num-buh 18. Batting second, num-buh two, De-rek Jet-uh, num-buh two…' - became part of Stadium lore."
A plaque honoring Sheppard hangs in Monument Park, "The voice of Yankee Stadium. For half a century, he has welcomed generations of fans with his trademark greeting, 'Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Yankee Stadium.'" And Derek Jeter asked Sheppard to specially record his at-bat introduction for Yankee Stadium. He once told the Post's Steve Serby, "I would rather be known as a competent, warm, capable teacher of speech than as the best p.a. announcer in baseball. To me, the classroom is far more important than the ballpark."
Here are some videos of Sheppard in action, first reading a videotaped farewell to the old Yankee Stadium ("Farewell, old Yankee Stadium, farewell/What a wonderful story you can tell / DiMaggio, Mantle, Gehrig and Ruth / A baseball cathedral in truth") and then a line-up from 2008: