A Look Back At Career Of Yankees Icon Sheppard

For more than 50 years, announcer Bob Sheppard has been the iconic voice of Yankee Stadium. Sheppard has missed the last two Yankee seasons because of illness. And yesterday, the Web site for Major League Baseball ran a story saying that Sheppard has decided it is time to retire. Melissa Block looks back at his career.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

For more than 50 years, announcer Bob Sheppard has been the iconic voice of Yankee Stadium.

Mr. BOB SHEPPARD (Baseball Announcer): Number 2, Derek Jeter, shortstop.

BLOCK: Bob Sheppard has missed the last two Yankee seasons because of illness; and yesterday, the Web site for Major League Baseball ran a story saying that Sheppard has decided it is time to officially cede control of his microphone to a successor.

My heart sank when I read that. I met Bob Sheppard back in 1996, when I went to Yankee Stadium to do a profile of him. I count myself among the millions of devoted Bob Sheppard fans, and I've been holding out hope that he will be back in that announce booth, his majestic voice resonating through the new Yankee Stadium.

So I called his house today and spoke with his wife, Mary. She told me that there is nothing official, that nothing has been announced yet, and that Bob has been working to regain his strength. And I asked her about something else.

When I interviewed Bob Sheppard, way back in 1996, I asked him what I thought was a basic question.

BLOCK: Can I ask how old you are?

Mr. SHEPPARD: No.

BLOCK: I can ask.

Mr. SHEPPARD: No.

BLOCK: (Unintelligible).

Mr. SHEPPARD: No.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHEPPARD: I'm on the shady side of middle age, and that is the answer that I would be willing to have you put on tape and keep there, the shady side of middle age, and if that isn't enough for you, then this interview is over.

BLOCK: So given that sensitivity, imagine my surprise to read, on MLB.com, that Bob Sheppard is talking openly now about being 99 years old. Ninety-nine years, he said, wow, can you envision that? His wife, Mary, told me that she had always encouraged him to reveal his age, that anyone could Google it, anyway, but that he wanted to keep that to himself, until recently.

So Bob Sheppard, I'm rooting for you to be in Yankee Stadium late next October, at age 100, for another World Series.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: Coming up, I'll talk with a young actress who's getting tons of buzz. Carey Mulligan stars in the new film "An Education," about a high school girl's affair with an older man. That's coming up next on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

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