Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Birthplace Of The Voice Of The Lord

Robert Leo "Bob" Sheppard (October 20, 1910 - July 11, 2010) was the public address announcer for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball from 1951 to 2007, and was the public address announcer for the New York Giants of the National Football League from 1956 to 2006.
In his time with the Yankees Sheppard announced over 4,500 Major League Baseball games, seeing the team capture 22 American League pennants and 13 World Series championships. Yankee Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson dubbed him "the Voice of God".
Sheppard was born in 1910 in Richmond Hill, a section of the borough of Queens, New York City. A U.S. Naval Officer in World War II, Lt. Sheppard commanded shipboard gunnery crews in the United States Pacific Fleet (1942–1945).
Throughout his career, Sheppard kept his age a secret, once ending an interview when asked the question twice. He graduated from Saint John's Preparatory School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn in 1928, and graduated from St. John's University in 1932, where he was president of his senior class.
Sheppard was enshrined in the St. John's University Sports Hall of Fame, where he earned seven varsity letters from 1928 to 1932, three in baseball as the starting first baseman and four in football as the starting quarterback.
He earned his Master's degree from Columbia University in 1933.
Sheppard was originally a speech teacher at John Adams High School, later at his alma mater, St. John's. He was speech and debate coach for Sacred Heart Academy's Forensic Team in Hempstead, New York. Sheppard would continue to serve St. John's as a PA announcer for sporting events, including men's basketball and varsity football, into the 1990s. Sheppard maintains that his work as a professor of speech is far more important than his work as an announcer. He said that as an announcer, "All I have to recommend is longevity." Sheppard first worked as a public address announcer for football games at St. John's. He moved on to the Brooklyn Dodgers of the All-America Football Conference. His work was remembered by the Yankee front office, and he debuted as Yankee PA announcer on April 17, 1951, with the Yankees' home opener, a win over the Boston Red Sox. In 1956, when the New York Giants football team moved into Yankee Stadium, he began announcing their games as well, staying with them for their move into Giants Stadium. The first Yankee lineup Sheppard announced contained eight future Hall of Famers, five on the New York squad alone: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto. Their opponents, the Boston Red Sox, featured Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Lou Boudreau. The first player he introduced was Dominic DiMaggio. He was initially paid $15 per game or $17 for a doubleheader. Sheppard is known for his distinctive announcing style, which has become a part of Yankee Stadium's lore. He began each game by saying, "Good evening... ladies and gentlemen... and welcome... to Yankee Stadium," employing a peculiar but effective cadence he developed to allow the echos of his words to reverberate around the cavernous original Yankee ballpark. He signaled in-game announcements with the polite dictate, "Your attention please, ladies and gentlemen."

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