Bob Sheppard Retiring

To the surprise of few but dismay of all Yankees fans, Bob Sheppard, the “Voice of God,” is retiring as the Yankees public address announcer.  Ill with a bronchial infection in mid-2007, Sheppard had been away since but had not officially retired, even planning to return in 2008.  However, after various physical setbacks and a slow recover, that unfortunately did not materialize.  The 99-year-old announcing great said recently,

“I have no plans of coming back.  Time has passed me by, I think. I had a good run for it. I enjoyed doing what I did. I don’t think, at my age, I’m going to suddenly regain the stamina that is really needed if you do the job and do it well.”

As Yankees fans know well, Derek Jeter has had an audio clip of Sheppard announcing his name for at-bats ever since 2006, after Sheppard missed the home opener having injured his hip.  His first game as a Yankee announcer was for their home opener to start the 1951 season, a 5-0 win over the Red Sox that sported no less than eight future Hall of Fame players.  The lineup is below:

Red Sox:
CF: Dom DiMaggio
RF: Billy Goodman
LF: Ted Williams*
3B: Vern Stephens
1B: Walt Dropo
2B: Bobby Doerr*
SS: Lou Boudreau*
C: Buddy Rosar
P: Billy Wright

Yankees:
LF: Jackie Jensen
SS: Phil Rizzuto*
RF: Mickey Mantle*
CF: Joe DiMaggio*
C: Yogi Berra*
1B: Johnny Mize*
3B: Billy Johnson
2B: Jerry Coleman
P: Vic Rashi

* = Hall of Fame member

His final lineup on September 17, 2007?  Against Baltimore, an 8-5 win, it’s below:

  • 2B: Brian Roberts
  • CF: Tike Redman
  • RF: Nick Markakis
  • SS: Miguel Tejada
  • 1B: Kevin Millar
  • DH: Aubrey Huff
  • 3B: Melvin Mora
  • C: Ramon Hernandez
  • LF: Jay Payton

Yankees:

  • CF: Johnny Damon
  • SS: Derek Jeter
  • RF: Bobby Abreu
  • SS: Alex Rodriguez
  • LF: Hideki Matsui
  • C: Jorge Posada
  • DH: Jason Giambi
  • 2B: Robinson Cano
  • 1B: Doug Mientkiewicz

Phil Hughes got the win, his fourth of the year, with 5 2/3 good innings.  Matsui homered in the third off loser Cabrera.  Nuke LaFarnsworth entered and allowed a run when it was 8-3, then Mariano allowed a double to Huff to cut it to 8-5 before whiffing Mora, the tying run.  I’ll leave it to you to determine how many Hall of Famers were in those starting lineups (though surely considerably fewer than Sheppard’s in 1951, no question).

You’ll be missed more than you know, Mr. Sheppard.

[Edit: Mike has a terrific audio link of Bob Sheppard reading the Yankees' Opening Day lineup that April day in 1951 at The Baseline. Listening to Sheppard announce five consecutive Hall of Famers, especially The Scooter, Mantle, The Yankee Clipper, and Yogi is pretty amazing.]

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Published in: on November 28, 2009 at 7:02 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I hope Mr Sheppard enjoys his retirement.

    A couple quick thoughts about that first line up of his: Mickey Mantle’s hype was sufficient enough that he was already the Yankees #3 hitter as a rookie. It wouldn’t last as he’d be sent down later in the season after struggling, but how often now do you see a rookie get called up and be placed right into the 3 hole?

    In the video in the link, they actually have Mantle’s number wrong. As a rookie in 1951 he wore #6. Longtime clubhouse man Pete Sheehy, again going off the considerable hype around Mantle, issued him #6 so that he would numerically follow Ruth, Gehrig, and DiMaggio. When Bobby Brown returned from military service in 1952 and reclaimed his #6, Mantle switched to #7.

  2. Good points, Matt. I knew that about Mantle wearing number 6 originally, but didn’t catch that on the audio. I wonder whether or not the audio was cobbled together, or was original. Very true about his stepping in at #3, and was likely much of why he struggled early on. The expectations the Yankees put on him, and he on himself, were very high for someone so young–still 19 on Opening Day 1951.

  3. I’m fairly certain that they asked Bob to re-create that line up and taped it at his house this spring. you can tell when listening to it that it has been edited. mostly for time constraints i’d imagine. his words are practically on top of one another when he goes from one guy to the next…


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