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Bob Sheppard: clear, concise, correct
Here is Mark Herrmann's classy look back at a classy man, Bob Sheppard, who died Sunday at age 99.
One of the most remarkable things about Sheppard's long run as a New York sports icon is he already was 40 when he took the Yankee Stadium public address microphone, yet here he was, nearly 60 years later, still so relevant he reached No. 1 on Google Trends and No. 2 on Twitter Sunday.
On the surviving film of Don Larsen's 1956 perfect game, Sheppard's familiar voice can be heard in the background making announcements as fans file out of Yankee Stadium.
By then, he already was in his sixth season on the job!
I first met Sheppard in the early 1990s when I was covering St. John's basketball and he was announcing for his alma mater.
When I speculated in print he must be in his early 80s, he was furious and told me every other reporter he had spoken to over the years had resisted that urge.
Nearly 20 years later, on Thanksgiving morning, 2009, I reluctantly bothered him at home to follow up on an MLB.com report that he had retired.
Naturally, he was kind and understanding, and gave me one of the most memorable interviews of my career, including this line when I asked whether he might return to work in 2010:
"Let me start from the bottom: I am now 99 years old. I don't think a man 99 years old goes back to work after two years of separation."
Wait? Didn't he just admit his age publicly for the first time? "It's been in the paper," he said. "It's been in Sports Illustrated. It's no secret."
I also asked Sheppard whether he might like to someday dine in the press box lounge named for him at the new stadium.
"If the price is right," he cracked, still clear, concise, correct after all these years.