The Great Ones — George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard
July 16, 2010 — There’s never been a week in Yankees history
quite like the one we just experienced.
In a span of two days, the Yankees lost two legends in George
Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard.
Steinbrenner was the foundation of every shred of success the
Yankees have known over the last four decades, and his impact on the game of
baseball was unmatched among owners, players and managers during his 37-year
The numbers speak for themselves. During Steinbrenner’s tenure,
the Yankees won seven championships and 11 American League pennants. That’s
right, seven championships and 11
Subsequently, the Boss turned a franchise that was faltering
when he came on board — having not won a title in more than a decade — into
the most famous sports brand in the world.
It is not an exaggeration to say that because of George
Steinbrenner, the Yankees are known, followed and revered in the far reaches of
the globe, as well as in every city in North America.
Steinbrenner brought everyone from Reggie Jackson and Catfish
Hunter to Paul O’Neill to Alex Rodriguez to the Bronx before giving New Yorkers
the most magnificent stadium in sports. With that said, the Boss’ impact on the
Yankees is on a par with any of the all-time greats – including Babe Ruth, Joe
DiMaggio and Derek Jeter.
While I didn’t get to know the Boss very well during my eight
years with the Yankees, I will always be proud to have had the opportunity to
work for him. I interviewed the Boss on a few occasions, and those experiences
were challenging. But ultimately, they made me a better interviewer.
The Boss’ attention to detail — every detail — made everyone
who ever worked for him better at their job and infinitely more professional.
The Boss set a gold standard for everything he put his name on — including Yankees
A few days after I was promoted to the director of publications position
and named editor-in-chief of Yankees Magazine, I received a note from
Mr. Steinbrenner. It read: “The new crew doesn’t miss a beat. Keep up the
good work. GMS”
That note provides constant motivation, and it is a keepsake
that I will always treasure.
Bob Sheppard’s voice was unique and beautiful. Reggie Jackson
dubbed him “the voice of God.” That moniker was appropriate since
Sheppard introduced players for more than five decades at baseball’s cathedral
— the old Yankee Stadium. Sheppard did his job with perfection, pronouncing
players’ names in an understated and consistent tone.
Sheppard was the New York Yankees public address announcer for
58 years, and he spent over 50 years in the New York Giants public address
booth. And through all of those games, Sheppard never announced a single
player’s name before personally asking the player how to properly pronounce it.
When Sheppard saw a name that he hadn’t read before, he would approach the
player in the clubhouse before that day’s game.
Bob Sheppard the man was kind, smart and interesting.
“Bob came to work everyday and treated everyone he met with
respect and kindness,” Brian Cashman said Sheppard’s funeral.
Regardless of your status with the team, Sheppard treated everyone
with respect. In today’s world, that is rare.
I met Mr. Sheppard for the first time during my first month with
the Yankees (2003). From that day forward, he always greeted me, asked how my
family was, and it was clear, he genuinely cared about my well being.
In 2007, I asked Mr. Sheppard if I could sit with him in the
public address booth for a few innings of a game, and discuss the experience in
my first book, Yankee Stadium: The
Those few innings lasted two entire games. Two games, in which
“the voice of God” told stories about his favorite games, his longest games and
several others in between. Two games in which he taught me several life
lessons, which I won’t ever forget.
In recent years, I sent Mr. Sheppard several packages of Yankees
publications. And without exception, I received a hand-written thank you note
after each of those packages arrived. In those notes, Mr. Sheppard told me how
much the books meant to him. If only he knew how much those notes — and his
friendship — meant to me.
I will miss Bob Sheppard, the voice of Yankee Stadium. But more
than that, I will miss Bob Sheppard the man.
–Alfred Santasiere III