Robert Leo Sheppard, the voice of the Yankees, was the public address announcer at the old Yankee Stadium from 1951 – 2007. During his time as the public address announcer at the ballpark, fans and players referenced Bob Sheppard as the Voice of God. Throughout his career, Sheppard’s voice introduced many famous New York Yankees and opposing players.
As of 2020, Bob’s legacy sits out at Yankee Stadium’s monument park and the Baseball Hall of Fame for his accomplishments over the years. Bob was part of many TV shows and movies playing himself in addition to his professional career with baseball. Here is what you need to know about Mr. Sheppard and his career.
A Brief Intro
Robert Leo Sheppard was born on October 20, 1910, in Richmond Hill, Queens. During his early years, Bob was a prolific athlete who earned multiple varsity letters from St. John’s University. Finally, Bob was the president of his senior class and received a master’s degree in speech from Columbia University.
In the late 1940s, he became the announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers football team at Ebbets Field. In 1948, a New York Yankees official heard Bob deliver a powerful tribute to Babe Ruth during a football game in 1948. Shortly after hearing the praise of Babe Ruth and how Bob spoke, the New York Yankees gave him a job. Initially, Robert Leo Sheppard did not accept the offer as he was also a teacher but did decide to join the Yankees in 1951.
Hall of Fame First Game
Mr. Sheppard’s first game with the New York Yankees took place on April 17, 1951. The first game that the new stadium announcer introduced included eight Hall of Famers. The Yankees Hall of Famers during his first game included Johhny Mize, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto, and Yogi Berra. For the Red Sox, they had Bobby Doerr, Lou Boudreau, and Ted Williams on their team.
The Sports Announcers Style
During his time as the Yankee Stadium public address announcer, Bob had a distinctive announcing style. Baseball games would begin with “Good afternoon (evening)…ladies and gentlemen…and welcome…to Yankee Stadium.” In addition to that opening, he would also start the game with “Your attention, please, ladies and gentlemen.”
Along with that traditional opening, Bob would introduce every batter who came up to the home plate the same way. He begins with the player’s position, uniform number, name, and then the repeat of the uniform number. For example, when Derek Jeter would come up to bat, you would hear something like this. “Now batting for the Yankees…shortstop…number two…Derek Jeter…number two.”
His Attention to Detail
Throughout his career, Bob Sheppard made sure to announce every player’s name accurately with notes. If Bob felt he could not pronounce a name, he would try and meet up with the player to make sure he got the title correct before a game. During his career, Bob’s favorite names to pronounce included Mickey Mantle, Salomé Barojas, and Álvaro Espinoza.
Casual Mistakes as an Announcer
Nobody is perfect, not even the Voice of God, which many players and fans saw Bob as. He did have a few minor errors in his career, but there was nothing ever serious. One mistake was when Bob Sheppard was introducing the first New York Giants football game at their new venue in New Jersey. Instead of saying, “Welcome to Giants Stadium,” Bob instead said, “Welcome to Yankee Stadium.”
Another mistake was in 1995 when he introduced Jorge Posada as Jorge Posado with an O at the end of his name. It was a small error, but Derek Jeter made sure to tease his buddy with that name for years. Some of the Yankees would even call Jorge “Sodo” when he was up in at the plate during games.
His Favorite Moments
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With over fifty years of experience, Mr. Sheppard saw plenty of unforgettable moments during his career. Some of his favorite memories include Don Larsen’s Perfect game in 1956 to start. Back in 1961, Bob Sheppard had a clear view of Roger Maris hitting sixty-one home runs in 1961. Another favorite memory was seeing Reggie Jackson hitting three home runs in the 1977 World Series. In addition to those memories, the 2001 playoffs after September 11, 2001, were also great moments. Finally, Bob also saw many World Series victories at the stadium over the years.
Movies and Other Media
Bob Sheppard was part of plenty of TV shows, movies, and other media over his years. His most famous work outside baseball came in the TV show Seinfeld, where he was the stadium announcer in 1994 in an episode. Another TV show that Bob was part of was Mad About You, which came out in 1994.
Some movies that Bob was part of include 61*, It Could Happen to You, For Love of the Game, and Anger Management. The movie 61* was particularly crucial to Mr. Sheppard as that was one of his favorite seasons to watch during his career. The movies all had Mr. Sheppard play himself as the Yankee Stadium announcer.
Finally, Bob was a narrator for many documentaries over the years. Some documentaries include The New York Yankees (The Movie) in 1987, ESPN documentaries, and The Bronx is Burning in 2007. Other documentaries included ESPN: Who is #1, 30 for 30, and the MLB Network Presents 56: The Streak.
Bob Sheppard began seeing noticeable health declines starting at the age of 95 in 2006. After spending years with the New York Giants football team, Bob retired. The commute from his Long Island home to East Rutherford, New Jersey, was getting difficult for him. His final game with the New York Giants NFL team came on January 8, 2006, which was a playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers.
In 2006, Bob injured his hip and missed his first Yankee Stadium opener since starting in 1951. While Bob did recover fro that hip injury, his health was declining at a rapid pace, which fans began to notice. He developed a bronchial infection in 2007 and missed the division series that year.
Bob was looking forward to announcing the final All-Star game in 2008 in Yankee Stadium, but his health was not doing well. Bob did record the final lineup with 2008 being the last year at Old Yankee Stadium, which played over the loudspeaker. While he did miss the entire 2008 season, he did record a video before the game reading of the Major League lineups.
Death of a Legend
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Bob Sheppard passed away in 2010 at the age of 99 at his home in Baldwin, Long Island. His death came two days before the death of the Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner. To remember Bob Sheppard, the Yankees played their next home game without an announcer to remember God’s voice. The Yankees also wore a commemorative patch on their sleeve for the remainder of 2010.
Moving forward from Mr. Sheppard as the PA announcer, the Yankees had Jim Hall fill in as the PA announcer for a bit. As of 2020, the Yankees now use Paul Olden to address the crowd at ballgames. The Yankees still use Bob’s voice for specific events like Old Timer’s Day at the venue, however.
Hall of Fame Legacy
In 2000, Bob Sheppard donated his Yankee Stadium microphone to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Along with the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bob got his plaque honing him in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. In addition to getting his plaque, Bob also got the media dining room at the New Yankee Stadium to be named after him.
Some other interesting stats about Mr. Sheppard are below.
- Announced 4,000 regular MLB games
- 121 consecutive postseason games
- Introduced 70 Hall of Famers
- 55 Straight Seasons Announcing Opening Day
- 22 Different World Series
- Six no-hitters
- Three perfect games
His Legacy Continues
In 2008, Derek Jeter asked Bob Sheppard for a recording of his at-bat introduction. Derek Jeter only wanted Mr. Sheppard to introduce him as a Yankee while he was still playing. Derek Jeter used that recording up to his final game in 2014.
In addition to Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera’s final game at Yankee Stadium had a recording of Bob Sheppard introducing the pitcher. During the “Enter Sandman” song as Rivera ran in, you could hear “Now pitching for the Yankees…number 42…Mariano Rivera…number 42.
To recognize what Mr. Sheppard meant for baseball, the Yankees and MLB use his voice for many things. During each Old Timer Day’s Game, a recording of Bob Sheppard takes place, introducing the day to the fans. In addition to Yankee Stadium, you can hear Bob’s voice as he narrates The Baseball Experience at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
With over fifty years of announcing experience, generations of fans witnessed the gold standard in announcing. Bob’s precise voice and style still ring inside Yankee Stadium and the Hall of Fame today for specific events. The Yankees continue to honor the tradition of the most significant public address announcer in history with a plaque out in Monument Park. In addition to baseball games, you can find plenty of TV shows, documentaries, and movies that Bob was part of keeping his voice in history forever.