Yankees’ long-time radio voice John Sterling retires after 36 years

John Sterling Yankees
John Sterling (Wikimedia Commons)

Long-time radio voice of the New York Yankees, John Sterling, has retired effective immediately, the team announced Monday.  

Sterling has been a mainstay over the airwaves for more than 35 years, joining the booth in 1989 where he called 5,420 regular-season games and 211 postseason games. He will be recognized during a pregame ceremony on April 20 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I am a very blessed human being. I have been able to do what I wanted, broadcasting for 64 years,” a statement from Sterling read. “As a little boy growing up in New York as a Yankees fan, I was able to broadcast the Yankees for 36 years. It’s all to my benefit, and I leave very, very happy. I look forward to seeing everyone again on Saturday.”

The 85-year-old’s voice is iconic to Yankees fans, as is his trademark victory call of “Ballgame over! The Yankees win … theeeeeee Yankees win!” Those calls became particularly seminal during the club’s dynastic run in the 1990s when they won four World Series including three consecutive titles from 1998-2000.

The New York City native was also an iron man of sorts, calling 5,060 consecutive games from Sept. 1989 to July 2019. His final call ever for the Yankees was on April 7 — a win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“Fans find a certain comfort in the daily rhythms of baseball,” a statement from the Yankees read. “Day in and day out, season after season, and city after city, John Sterling used his seat in the broadcast booth to bring Yankees fans the heartbeat of the game, employing an orotund voice and colorful personality that were distinctly, unmistakably his own. John informed and entertained, and he exemplified what it means to be a New Yorker with an unapologetic and boisterous style that exuded his passion for baseball, broadcasting and the New York Yankees. 

“There is no shortage of adjectives to describe John and what he means to this organization and our millions of fans around the world. But what makes John a goliath of the sports broadcasting world was how sacred he held his role as voice of the Yankees. Showing up to perform virtually every single day since 1989, he was a pillar for Yankees fans who relied on the comfort and familiarity of his voice to be the soundtrack of their spring, summer and fall. Given the tremendous care he had for the team and his performance on the air, it’s not a stretch to believe that our fans live and die with every pitch because John Sterling did the same.

“We congratulate John on a remarkable and illustrious career.  His contributions to this great game and to the Yankees franchise will echo long into the future.”

Sterling got his start in his hometown where he hosted a talk show on WMCA from 1971-1978. During that time, he called games for the New York/New Jersey Nets of the NBA and the NHL’s New York Islanders from 1975-1980. He moved to TBS and WSB Radio in Atlanta to call Hawks and Braves games throughout the 1980s before making his way back home. 

During his indelible career with the Yankees, Sterling was inducted alongside Suzyn Waldman to the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2016. At the annual BBWAA Awards dinner in January 2020, he received the Casey Stengel “You Could Look It Up” Award.

For more on John Sterling and the Yankees, visit AMNY.com