Sheppard’s Run Ends With Jeter’s Exit. Introduced Major Yankees, Personal Moments

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.

A Sheppard Recording is Played Before Every Jeter At Bat.

A Sheppard Recording is Played Before Every Jeter At Bat.

“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.

 

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Derek Jeter Will Return To The Yankees. Won’t He?

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 12/1/10

Attention, ladies and gentleman.  Now batting for the Rays…number 2…Derek Jeter…shortstop…number 2.

It won’t happen…will it?

Will The Yankees & Jeter Turn Their Backs on Eachother?

When the New York Yankeestake the field in 2011, in search of their 28th World Series Championship, Derek Jeter will be in the line up.  Whose line up he’s actually in remains in question.

Now batting for the Tigers

Despite the daily jabs being thrown in the papers each day, an inconceivable approach by both parties, a deal between Derek Jeter and the Yankees will get done.  No other outcome makes any sense for either side.  It will eventually get rectified.  Right?

Now batting for the Giants

The Yankees have reportedly offered Jeter a 3-year deal, worth $45 million – an annual salary of $15 million.  It’s also been reported thatJeter is seeking more years and more dollars, perhaps something in the 5-year range at $23 million per.  The discrepancy is large, but not large enough to keep the Captain from returning to his pinstriped kingdom.  Is it?

Now batting for the Dodgers

Derek Jeter has a long history with the Yankees, and potentially an even longer future.  In addition to everything his on-field play and pristine reputation have meant to the Yankees organization in the past, he is the natural successor to Yogi Berra as the ceremonial ambassador of the Yankees.  Need a first pitch thrown?  Call Derek.  Want recruiting help for future free agents?  Call Derek.  How about a spring training instructor or special advisor?  Call Derek.

There is also the possibility Jeter could pursue a future with the Yankees in a coaching, managing or a front office role.  These are all nice, warm and fuzzy ideas…assuming Jeter wants to maintain his relationship with the Bombers and leverage the immaculate image he has so carefully crafted over the years.  Leaving the Yankees could potentially tarnish his legacy with the club and alienate fans the way Brett Favre did in Green Bay.  He wouldn’t be foolish enough to do that…would he?

Now batting for the Angels

Derek Jeter has seemingly never been about the money.  He has always been about winning.  He is the face of the Yankees, and their YES Network.  He relishes his role as the Big Apple’s King, and the opportunity to play under the bright lights of New York…but on which side of the river?

Now batting for the Mets

Derek Jeter has been irreplaceable for the Yankees, a leader on the field and a true gentleman off it.  He is Mr. Intangible, Mr. November, and Mr. Yankee.  He is consistently productive and revered within his clubhouse.  He breaks records on a nightly basis and is on the verge of collecting his 3,000th career hit.  He is also 36 years-old.

Unfortunately, the track record for 36 year-old athletes signing multi-year deals is not good.  For this reason, the Yankees asked Jeter to “drink the reality potion” in November 2010.

However, the Yankees should know that with Derek Jeter wearing pinstripes, they have their best chance to drink champagne in November 2011.

Derek Jeter has stated, on numerous occasions, his desire to hear Bob Sheppard’s voice every time he steps to the plate throughout the rest of his career.  That request won’t fly anywhere else but in the Bronx.  The two sides will have to ultimately compromise and get this deal done.

Won’t they?

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“The Boss” Takes Final Bow His Way, In The Spotlight

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 7/13/10

“The Boss” did it again, one last time.

As the baseball world prepares for tonight’s 81st All-Star Game in Anaheim, George M. Steinbrenner III grabbed the headlines for the final time.  He passed away, early this morning, at his Tampa home.  He had just turned 80 years-old on the fourth of July.

George Steinbrenner

Bob Sheppard, the legendary Yankees Public Address Announcer, died this past Sunday.  “The Voice of God” never wanted to be the story, he just wanted to introduce it before it happened.

By contrast, Steinbrenner relished the spotlight.  He was bombastic, relentless, and focused.  He took great pleasure in owning the back pages.  After all, he often had the best product, in the biggest city, and wanted everyone to know it.

Reporters would wait for him and hang on his every word.  A colorful quote from George Steinbrenner was priceless, and he knew just what people wanted to hear.

His 37-year reign atop the Yankees organization saw his club win 11 American League Championships and 7 World Series, including the final one played during his remarkable life, this past season.  In 1973, he headed a group of investors who purchased the franchise for just $10 million.  He proceeded to build the team into a billion dollar operation over the next four decades.

It wasn’t always champagne and championship rings along the way for Steinbrenner.  His fickle personality created tremendous tension around his employees, including his managers who always seemed to be on notice.  He changed managers 20 times in his first 23 years as owner, including five separate stints for Billy Martin.  He also fired Yogi Berra just three weeks into the 1985 season, creating animosity that kept Berra away from the Bronx for 14 years.

He was suspended from baseball twice, once in 1974 for his involvement in a President Nixon campaign finance scandal, and again in 1990 when he paid a man named Howard Spira for “dirt” on his own player, Dave Winfield.

Upon his return to baseball in the mid-nineties, a calmer Steinbrenner helped stabilize the franchise.  He hired Joe Torre as manager, developed young, home-grown stars in Derek JeterMariano RiveraJorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, and won 4 World Series titles in 5 years from 1996-2000.

At all times, Steinbrenner’s passion for winning superseded everything.  He was once, famously quoted as saying, “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing.  Breathing first, winning next.”

“The Boss” had tremendous financial resources that teams in other markets didn’t enjoy, but he routinely pumped that money back into his team.  Many chastised Steinbrenner for his free spending, but ultimately, he operated within the rules of the sport and raised the competitive bar throughout baseball.

As his health declined in recent years, and the power shifted to his sons, Hal and Hank, the winning mantra remained strong.  Steinbrenner demanded perfection from his players, and considered anything short of a championship to be failure.  In 2009, for the final time on Steinbrenner’s watch, the Yankees captured the 27th World Series in franchise history.

It was one last Title for a man who devoted all his energy to winning.

He went out a winner.

“The Boss” did it again, one last time.

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Clear, Concise, Correct.

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 7/13/10

Bob Sheppard carved out his legendary career speaking softly.  It was the batters who carried the big stick.  Mr. Sheppard simply introduced them on their way to swing it.

Sheppard is honored in Monument Park

In an industry saturated with big, booming voices, Sheppard preferred to quietly stick to his timeless method of “Clear, Concise, Correct” while acting as Yankees Public Address Announcer for nearly 60 years.  Yelling, screaming, and over-embellishment were never part of Sheppard’s repertoire.  Instead, he took pride in his ability to speak the English language, and properly pronounce every word he so eloquently spoke.

On Sunday, July 11, the voice Reggie Jackson once dubbed as “the Voice of God,” was silenced.  Sheppard passed away, surrounded by family, at his home in Baldwin, NY.  He was 99 years-old, just a few months short of reaching the century mark.

Sheppard’s voice was mythical, giving players and fans goose bumps with every syllable.  Though he also spent time announcing other New York area sporting events, his voice was synonymous with the House That Ruth Built.

To honor the now late, but always great Sheppard, Yankees Captain, Derek Jeter will continue to be introduced by the “Voice of God” for as long as he plays.  Since Sheppard’s final game in the booth, back in 2007, a recording has been played prior to each Jeter at bat.

It’s a simple, classy move to pay tribute to a classy individual – in other words, the clear, concise, and correct thing to do.

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