Bob Sheppard, whose stylish, elegant stadium introductions of New York Yankees from Joltin’ Joe to Derek Jeter spanned more than a half century and earned him the nickname “The Voice of God,” died Sunday.
He was 99.
Sheppard, a gentle man who spoke with the sonorous authority of a giant, died at his Long Island home in Baldwin, the Yankees said.
His voice, however, will live on in recordings. His mellifluous tone still is heard at Yankees games, nearly three years after his finale, when it is played to introduce Jeter, the Yankees captain.
“Every time you hear it, you sort of get chills,” Jeter said.
Sheppard started with the Yankees in April 1951 and worked his last game at Yankee Stadium in September 2007, when he became ill with a bronchial infection.
His “Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman, and welcome to Yankee Stadium,” was as much a part of the team’s identity as the pinstripes itself.
And for a person heard far more often than seen, he became a fan favorite alongside Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Jeter.
Even slowed by illness, Sheppard recorded a greeting to fans, a poem and the introductions that were played at the original ballpark’s final game on Sept. 21, 2008.
Sheppard was perhaps the only Yankees employee never criticized by hard-driving owner George Steinbrenner, who called him “the gold standard.”
“Fans were thrilled to hear his unforgettable voice and players were thrilled to hear his majestic enunciation of their names,” he said.
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