"Now batting for the New York Yankees, number two, Derek Jeter, number two." These are the unforgettable words that stay in the minds of fans at Yankee Stadium. Those words have been spoken by nobody other than the Voice of God.
Bob Sheppard has announced that he will not return to the microphone as the P.A. announcer for the New York Yankees. "The Voice of Yankee Stadium" has announced for the 27-Time World Series Champions for over fifty years. But the former grade school teacher did not use the word "retirement" even at the age of 99. He said, "I don't intend at this moment to see myself back as the public address announcer at Yankee Stadium, feeling the way I do now."
The 2009 World Series between the Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies was the first one not to be called by Bob Sheppard since 1951. His contract expires in February 2010 and might not ever call another World Series game.
Sheppard has called line-ups that have included Yankee legends like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Thurman Munson, Derek Jeter and many more. In the last few years, Sheppard had taken a leave of absence from the mic but Derek Jeter still has a recording of Sheppard's voice to introduce the Yankee Captain.
Other players that have played at the old Yankee Stadium, when Sheppard was there, have said that just hearing his voice sends chills down their spine.
He has not announced his retirement. He has not quit. He has just put down the mic. But a return is very unlikely. When asked about a return Sheppard said, "Let me start from the bottom: I am now 99 years old. I don't think a man 99 years old goes back to work after two years of separation."
Sheppard said to mlb.com that even a surprise appearance in the Public Address Announcer's booth might even be unlikely. He said that it's not the length of the game that will keep him away from an appearance, but the preparation and travel that it takes to do things right.
The Voice of Yankee Stadium has not visited the new home of the Yankees and is hoping to visit the place in 2010. He does not turn 100 until October 20th, 2010. What a way to celebrate his 100th birthday than with a possible Yankees World Series or playoff game!
The Yankees have named Paul Olden as his temporary replacement but he is no Sheppard. Yankee fans will always be able to hear Sheppard's voice. Whether it is when they scan their ticket to enter the Stadium as Sheppard says, "Welcome to Yankee Stadium,"or when Derek Jeter comes up to bat, Bob Sheppard's voice will forever be ringing in the hearts of Yankee fans.