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Yankee Stadium

“The luckiest man on the face of the earth”

Seventy-five years ago today, Yankees great Lou Gehrig said farewell to baseball and the fans at Yankee Stadium with one of the most memorable speeches of sports history. Here’s an old newsreel of Gehrig’s career and a clip from his farewell speech, on July 4, 1939.

Sports On Earth has the full text of Gehrig’s speech, and a comparison to the version from Pride of the Yankees. They’re paying tribute to the Iron Horse today at Yankee Stadium. Lou Gehrig died of the disease that bears his name in 1941, but his memory endures. Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

RIP, Bob Sheppard

Preceding George Steinbrenner in death was the legendary PA announcer Bob Sheppard, known as both the voice of Yankee Stadium and the Voice of God. If you watched the All Star Game on Tuesday night, you got to hear a recording of Sheppard introduce Derek Jeter; at Jeter’s request, a recording of Sheppard has announced Jeter’s turns at bat since Sheppard’s retirement in 2007, and will continue till Jeter hangs up his spikes. Let me again recommend Jay Jaffe and the links he provides – be especially sure to read Ed Alstrom’s words – for the best of what is being said about this extraordinarily well-loved man. Which makes me wonder – why isn’t he in the Hall of Fame? Surely he could fit in as a broadcaster. I smell a Facebook opportunity here.

Anyway. Robert Merrill, Eddie Layton, Sheppard, and Steinbrenner – if this isn’t the last vestige of my childhood saying good-bye, I don’t know what would be. If there is a heaven, Bob Sheppard is now announcing its new arrivals. Rest in peace, Bob Sheppard.

UPDATE: The Yankees paid tribute to Steinbrenner and Sheppard at last night’s game.

Bob Sheppard officially retires

The legendary Bob Sheppard, the amazing longtime PA announcer at Yankee Stadium, has called it a career.

Bob Sheppard has no intentions of returning to his longtime job as the public-address announcer at Yankee Stadium, MLB.com reported yesterday.

Sheppard, 99, hasn’t worked a game since late in the 2007 season due to illness.

“I have no plans of coming back,” Sheppard told the Web site in a telephone interview. “Time has passed me by, I think. I had a good run for it. I enjoyed doing what I did. I don’t think, at my age, I’m going to suddenly regain the stamina that is really needed if you do the job and do it well.”

More here and here. Sheppard’s voice over the PA, along with Eddie Layton on the organ and Robert Merrill singing the National Anthem, were what made games at the Stadium so memorable. In fact, I’m so overcome with nostalgia as I read this, I need to hear Merrill’s version of the Anthem again:

The singing begins at about 1:30. That, my friends, is how you do the Star Spangled Banner. I’m glad they still maintain the tradition of Merrill performing on Opening Day, and I’m glad Sheppard’s voice will continue to introduce Derek Jeter. The Yankees have always been about their history, and this is a great way to honor it. In the meantime, my best wishes to Bob Sheppard in his retirement, even if he doesn’t like to use that word.