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In memoriam: Bob Sheppard

Bob Sheppard, whose voice was synonymous with the Yankee Stadium experience, passed away. He was 99.

Bob Sheppard, whose voice was synonymous with the Yankee Stadium experience for at least three generations of Bronx Bomber fans, passed away. He was 99.

Sheppard's voice was distinctive and authoritative; he wasn't an in-your-face PA announcer, to be sure. A high-school teacher by day (at least in the early going), Sheppard was present for most of the big Yankee Stadium moments through the closing of the second version of the ballpark. Poor health prevented him from calling a game at the new Yankee Stadium.

"The modern PA announcers like to shout," he once told Mike Lupica, "to do everything and anything to draw attention to themselves. That has never been my style."

He first announced a Yankees game on April 17, 1951, the same day Mickey Mantle made his debut as a Bomber, during Joe DiMaggio's last season. The owners of the team at the time were Dan Topping and Del Webb, which means Sheppard was around for the rest of their tenure as Yankee owners, the entire CBS period, and most of the Steinbrenner era. His time as a Yankee fan preceded him time behind the mike: he frequented Yankee Stadium as a child and teen, bringing up memories of watching Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the field, even though his favorite player at the time was George Sisler.

Ironically, there are strong hints that he actually preferred football to baseball. He was also the PA announcer for the New York Giants for 50 years, bowing out after being frustrated with post-game traffic at the Meadowlands. When asked by Phil Rizzuto about his favorite memory at Yankee Stadium, he cited a Giants championship game at Yankee Stadium — not a Yankees World Series win.

The Yankees issued the following statement from owner George Steinbrenner:

"I am deeply saddened by the death today of Bob Sheppard, a good friend and fine man whose voice set the gold standard for America's sports announcers. For over a half century, fans were thrilled to hear his unforgettable voice and players were thrilled to hear his majestic enunciation of their names. Bob Sheppard was a great member of the Yankees family and his death leaves a lasting silence. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Mary, and their family." 

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