Monday, July 12, 2010

Farewell Bob Sheppard

Bob Sheppard died today at age 99. I'll do what I can to make this tribute brief and do justice to the man with my words. Although I never knew the man personally, Sheppard meant a lot to me. Many of my experiences that involve sports- and my lifelong fandom of both the Yankees and Giants involve the man. Blessed with a buttery voice and a gift for elocution, Sheppard delighted and amazed fans via his job as a public address announcer for both teams. As Reggie Jackson dubbed him "the voice of god", he was as ingrained in the soul of the fans like any mainstay of either franchise in his nearly sixty year career. Being a speech professor and a poet in his life away from sports, he had a calm, professional weight to his delivery as opposed to the carnival barker to style of today's' announcers. Many will remember him for his much loved line-up introductions for Yankees baseball. However, for me the resounding memory I will carry of him was his presence at nearly all of the Giants games I attended from 1980-2005. He was direct, concise and in the moment, but he always knew better than to overshadow the action with bloated theatrics. I can clearly hear him call out "Dorsett....spilled by Carson. Assisted by Taylor" just like it was yesterday. In my youthful dreams of entering the sports world I tried my hand at PA work in high school and I was a terrible failure at it. Sheppard's classy work was my inspiration and I'm glad I gave it a try. He may never have played a down or swung a bat, but Bob Sheppard was every bit a member of those teams he worked for; in as much as he embodied their enduring spirit. That spirit is a part of the dreams that make up the love every fan has for his favorite team. Every fan that ever heard his voice ascend from the rafters can attest to that as the truth. Farewell.  

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