Ran this on my other blog on Jews and Sports :
Bob Sheppard, the voice of the New York Yankees for some 60 years, passed away yesterday at the age of 99.
Sheppard , who was known in certain circles as “the voice of God” for his diction, timber, and dulcet tone was not Jewish, but thanks to this anecdote from Len Berman, I thought I’d bend the rules a bit.
From Berman’s Thatssports.com :
In his first day as Yankees public address announcer in 1951, he called out the names Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams. Through 6 decades at Yankee Stadium, as well as Giants football, two things never wavered. That wonderful voice and his penchant for accuracy. He often had a roster in hand and would approach players asking them how to pronounce their names. He always wanted to get it right. His voice will live on, in the taped introduction of Derek “Jee-tuh,” starting tomorrow night at the All Star Game. And I will never hear a public address announcer intone “your attention please ladies and gentlemen,” and not think of Bob. What a wonderful gentle man who is as much part of Yankee lore as the players.
Here’s a story I’ve told before. I was once at a Bar Mitzvah where Bob was a guest. During the kid’s candle lighting ceremony, Bob stood by the boy and his cake making the announcements. “Ladies and gentlemen your attention please. Will Grandma Tessie and Grandpa Max please come up to light the next candle.” Priceless.
In a follow-up email, Berman wrote, “Bob was a guest at the Bar Mitzvah, and one of those called up to light a candle by him was “Uncle” Joe DiMaggio, a close friend of the family.”
That must have been some party.
Here are a couple of videos highlighting this behind-the-scenes legend.
Maury Allen devoted a chapter to Sheppard in his 1990 book Baseball: The Lives Behind the Seams . And Harvey Frommer, author of numerous books about the Yankees and New York baseball, offered this tribute on his own blog. It’s a shame Sheppard, with all his knowledge and sense of history, didn’t write one of his own.