Bob Sheppard, whose elegant introductions of stars from Joe DiMaggio to Derek Jeter at Yankee Stadium for more than a half century earned him the nickname “The Voice of God,” died Sunday. He was 99.
The revered public address announcer died at his Long Island home in Baldwin with his wife, Mary, at his side, the Yankees said.
Sheppard started with the Yankees in 1951 and he last worked at Yankee Stadium late in the 2007 season, when he became ill with a bronchial infection. He recorded a greeting to fans that was played at the original ballpark’s final game on Sept. 21, 2008, and his audio recording still is used to introduce Jeter before each at-bat at home by the Yankees captain.
When the team moved into new Yankee Stadium last year, it honored him by naming the media dining room after him.
While Sheppard didn’t like to give his age, a former Yankees official confirmed in 2006 that Sheppard was born Oct. 20, 1910.
The Yankees’ lineup for Sheppard’s first game on April 17, 1951, included DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto. And the opponents that day, the Boston Red Sox, were led by Ted Williams.
Sheppard became as much as a fixture in the Bronx ballpark as the familiar white stadium facade or Monument Park, tucked behind the blue outfield wall.
On May 7, 2000, after 50 years and two weeks on the job, the team honored him with “Bob Sheppard Day” and put a plaque in his honor in Monument Park. Fans gave Sheppard a standing ovation, and legendary news anchor Walter Cronkite read the inscription. Berra, Reggie Jackson and Don Larsen were among those who stood on the field during the ceremonies.
“The voice of Yankee Stadium,” read the plaque. “For half a century, he has welcomed generations of fans with his trademark greeting, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Yankee Stadium.'”