Legendary Yankees Broadcaster John Sterling Bids Emotional Farewell After 36 Seasons

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In a touching ceremony that marked the culmination of a career spanning over three and a half decades, John Sterling, the legendary voice of the New York Yankees, took an emotional 90 seconds to bid farewell to the game, the team and the fans that have been his life for 36 seasons.

Celebrated on-field ahead of the Yankees’ hard-fought, 10-inning 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday, the 85-year-old Sterling had declared his retirement just a fortnight into the current season. Present on this momentous occasion with him was his loving family as he bestowed a fond farewell to the packed stadium of 47,629 fans who had been an integral part of his laudable journey.

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“You’ve shown me kindness, respect, and love time and again,” said Sterling, his words echoing gratitude and deep respect for the fandom that had loved and revered his voice for all these years. He went on to express his immense fortune in having a career that was celebrated by the very people he worked hard to entertain.

The crowd, on its part, returned the love tenfold, giving Sterling a booming farewell during their first-inning Roll Call. For Sterling, who would be turning 86 soon, the decision to leave his beloved broadcasting booth boiled down to one key realization: he was tired and looked forward to not being on air every day.

During his illustrious career, he was the voice behind 5,420 regular-season games, his last game being against Toronto on April 7. This tally also includes 211 postseason games. Remarkably, he broadcast 5,060 consecutive games from September 1989 through July 2019, starting his tenure with the Yankees as a pregame host. Over these years, Sterling worked alongside broadcasting stalwarts like Jay Johnstone, Joe Angel, Michael Kay, Charley Steiner, and Suzyn Waldman.

That day, the Yankees assembled a montage of his most unforgettable calls, bequeathed him with gifts, including a jersey etched with No. 5,631, signifying his total games, and sterling silver Yankees cufflinks. Farewell speeches through video tributes poured in from past team members, including Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, and Derek Jeter. A large-screen television and a silver microphone, engraved with his name, were also gifted, and the team gathered around him for a touching team photo.

To highlight his parting address, Sterling drew attention to the spontaneous origins of his signature, exclamatory homerun calls. A seemingly innocuous phrase for a Bernie Williams homerun ‘Bern, baby, Bern!’ had snowballed into a tradition, although Sterling sheepishly admitted he never intended it to be for every player.

With nostalgia thick in his voice, Sterling revealed his favorites to be ‘A-bomb from A-Rod!’ and `Robbie Cano, don’t you know’, his unique calls for home runs by Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano.

Born in 1938 and having grown up in New York, Sterling knew from a young age that he wanted to be broadcast announcer. Despite not being a regular in the clubhouses, Sterling made quite an impression with his theatrical nature and vivacious spirit, leaving an indelible mark on the organization and the game of baseball itself.

As the ceremony drew to a close, Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ played out, setting the perfect mood as Sterling, walking back to the Yankees dugout, mused about the possibility of being honored in the illustrious Monument Park. He signed off, leaving the airwaves quieter, but forever echoing his signature calls and the love he had for the game and its fans.