By Jason Klein
Derek Jeter’s career is coming to an end.
When it does, he’ll take Bob Sheppard’s voice with him.
Though Sheppard was silenced for good with his passing in July 2010, Jeter has continued to pay homage to the legendary Yankees Public Address Announcer of nearly 60 years. Since his final game in the booth, back in 2007, a recording of Sheppard’s Jeter introduction has been played prior to each of Derek’s at bats.
“Now batting for the Yankees…number 2…Derek Jeter…number 2.”
Sheppard’s voice had a mythical quality to it. Goosebumps surfaced with every properly pronounced syllable. Jeter single-handedly extended Sheppard’s Stadium shelf life by seven years – long enough for a new generation of fans to experience him, including my 4 year-old daughter.
For that, I’ll always be grateful for Jeter’s decision to be introduced by the “Voice of God” for as long as he continued playing.
As it turns out, he only has another month to go. Two if we’re lucky.
Sheppard’s style always inspired me. In an industry saturated with big, booming voices, Sheppard preferred to quietly stick to his timeless method of “Clear, Concise, Correct.” Yelling and over-embellishment wasn’t his style. Instead, he took pride in his ability to properly speak the English language.
His voice was ear candy. He made every trip to Yankee Stadium an event. He was synonymous with the Yankees brand, like pinstripes and façade.
His voice was heard before some of the biggest moments in franchise history.
In 2008, I wanted his voice heard before my biggest moment too.
In the winter of 2008, I placed a call to Paul Sheppard, Bob’s son. I was getting married that upcoming July 4th, and wanted the “Voice of Yankee Stadium” to present my wife and I to our guests.
At that time, Sheppard had already announced his final game at Yankee Stadium. His health was deteriorating and his son informed me that he’d honor my request should his condition remain stable.
In late Spring, Sheppard, feeling more like himself, pre-recorded intros for my future wife and me, along with the rest of our wedding party – something that remained a surprise for our guests until our wedding reception was interrupted by:
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Glen Island Harbour Club.”
Heads swiveled, eyes popped, and jaws dropped low. His voice added a layer of historical elegance typically only found at East 161st Street in the Bronx.
After our wedding party entered, my wife and I joined the fun on Sheppard’s cue:
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, please rise, and remove your caps. Please give a warm welcome to, for the first time as husband and wife…the Bride and Groom…Mr. and Mrs. Jason Klein…the Bride and Groom.
[See Video of Intro Below]
Hearing Sheppard announce my name as I entered the room on my wedding day was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.
Only Derek Jeter has had that same pleasure over the past seven years.
When he goes, so does Sheppard’s voice.
We can all enjoy hearing it over the next month.
Two if we’re lucky.
Connect With JasonFollow @ByJasonKlein