“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Yankee Stadium.” – Bob Sheppard (1910-2010)
In a rare serious note for The Campus Socialite, I wanted to take a few minutes and express what the passing of Bob Sheppard means to New York Yankee fans. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the name Bob Sheppard, he was the voice of Yankee Stadium since 1961, coincidentally the year of Mickey Mantle’s debut game. Yankee Stadium, new or old, it doesn’t matter, has a lore about it that very few other stadiums, or venues in general, can match. Think about some of the monumental places in the world, the Sistine Chapel, the Eiffel Tower, Disney World, the Statue of Liberty, the Museum of Modern Art, reluctantly I’ll even add Fenway park, and give them a voice. Imagine that you would go to those places every day for a few months a year for as long as you could remember. Now consider that each time you went to visit these monumental places, there was one recurring voice narrating your experience and helping you clearly identify the beauty that was about to be bestowed on you. That is what Bob Sheppard was to a Yankee fan. As Derek Jeter once said, “he is the voice of god” and in Yankee Stadium it stood true. Before one of your heroes would step to plate, a voice coming from the sky would announce him to the world. Players always comment on the amazing feeling it is to play in Yankee Stadium. But think of the honor it must have been to have your name announced by Bob Sheppard before you approached the plate or the mound.
Sheppard’s philosophy or approach to his “work”, if that’s what you would call it, could be summed up in three words. Be CLEAR, CONCISE, and CORRECT, and for over 45 years he was all of those things. I believe that there is one more important C word that helps to sum who Bob Sheppard was, and that is CONSISTENT. Players, coaches, owners, came and went over the years. Stadium renovations could change the look of the stadium. But you knew you were in Yankee Stadium once you heard Bob Sheppard take the mic and address the crowd by saying: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Yankee Stadium.” RIP Bob Sheppard, your voice will never be forgotten.