News of Sheppard's passing leaves Yanks saddened
About five years ago, Derek Jeter first came up with the idea of recording Bob Sheppard's voice calling his name to the plate at Yankee Stadium.
Hearing someone else make the introduction at home just didn't sound right.
''I grew up a Yankee fan and he was the voice I always heard,'' Jeter said Sunday in Seattle, hours after Sheppard died at the age of 99 at his Long Island home.
''There were a few times sprinkled in and out that he wasn't there and it didn't sound right. So I had the idea to record his voice and always used it as long as I was playing.''
Jeter's reaction was echoed by many of his teammates, who were saddened to learn of the passing of the Yankees' longtime public address announcer. Even though Sheppard has not been in the booth regularly at Yankee Stadium since 2007 — ending a career that began in 1951 — his voice remained a vivid memory for fans and players alike.
Jorge Posada got a nickname out of the first time Sheppard announced his name. Without a chance to check with Posada on the pronunciation, Sheppard announced his entry into the game with an ''O'' at the end of his last name. Jeter caught on and gave Posada the nickname ''Sado.''
''His voice, there was nobody better,'' Posada said. ''People looked forward to coming to Yankee Stadium to hear that voice. It's a sad day.''
All-Star closer Mariano Rivera would try and block out as many distractions as possible when entering games in the ninth inning, but he never could ignore Sheppard's voice.
''You always hear that voice, even if you don't want to,'' Rivera said.
Sheppard started announcing Yankees games in 1951 — Joe DiMaggio's final season and the year Mickey Mantle made his debut. Head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, now in his 48th season with the Yankees organization, called Sheppard one of the most polite men he's ever met and someone he grew to appreciate over the years.
Former player and current Yankees manager Joe Girardi considered Sheppard someone who should be revered with all the greats in Yankees history. The Seattle Mariners had a moment of silence in honor of him before Sunday's series finale against the Yankees.
''When you think of Bob Sheppard you think of all the tradition with the Yankees. You think about Ruth and Gehrig and Yogi and Joe D and Mantle, and I think you mention Bob Sheppard,'' Girardi said. ''That's how important he was to this franchise.
''First time I ever heard him was 1996,'' Girardi added. ''First time I ever walked out in Yankee Stadium and you realize you've hit the big lights when Bob Sheppard announces your name.''