Yankees Icon John Sterling Retires After 36 Seasons of Broadcasting Brilliance

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In a surprise announcement that echoed through the hallowed halls of Yankee Stadium, John Sterling, an iconic institution of New York Yankees broadcasting, sent shockwaves through the baseball community by declaring his immediate retirement at the age of 85.

For an impressive 36 seasons, Sterling’s voice filled the Yankees’ radio box with an unforgettably frenetic fervor. Like the very heartbeat of the team, he was there through the highs and lows, trials and triumphs, witnessing an extraordinary 5,420 regular-season games. His unyielding tenacity was encapsulated by an unparalleled run where he commentated 5,060 uninterrupted games from September 1989 through July 2019.

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However, the strains of time and travel had gently begun to erode Sterling’s omnipresence. Recently, he had dialed back his schedule, notably absent from the team’s current ventures to Cleveland and Toronto. His last unforgettable call was against the Blue Jays on April 7.

To honor Sterling’s indelible contributions, the Yankees are planning a special ceremony before Saturday’s match against Tampa Bay in the Bronx.

Reflecting on his storied career, Sterling released a heartfelt statement. “I have been able to do what I wanted, broadcasting for 64 years,” he said. “As a little boy growing up in New York as a Yankees fan, I was fortunate enough to broadcast the Yankees for 36 years. I leave very, very happy. I’m excited to see everyone again on Saturday.”

Defying the standard play-by-play commentary, Sterling etched his name in the annals of Yankees history with a unique quirk — the personalized home run call. As the team basked in the glory of four World Series titles from 1996-2000, a player’s home run call from Sterling became as emblematic as the classic pinstripes or championship rings.

Whether it was “Bernie goes boom!” for Bernie Williams, “It’s a Jeter jolt!” for Derek Jeter, “It’s an A-bomb from A-Rod!” for Alex Rodriguez, or “A thrilla from Godzilla!” for Hideki Matsui, Sterling’s creativity turned the simple act of hitting a homer into an unforgettable moment.

Despite the beloved broadcaster’s departure, his impact will forever echo within the stadium, from the bustling clubhouse to the farthest reaches of the bleachers. His one-of-a-kind catchphrases for the modern Yankees’ ensemble, from Aaron Judge’s “It’s a Judge-ian blast!” to Anthony Rizzo’s “Nobody beats the Rizz!” and DJ LeMahieu’s “David John makes long gone!” will be greatly missed by the Yankee community.

Fancifully obscure at times, he had a desire for joyously excessive wordplay that transcended language barriers, weaving Italian phrases into his call like “Giancarlo, non si può de stoparlo!” for Giancarlo Stanton and “A spettacolo oggi!” for Anthony Volpe. His fondness for verbal theatrics also led Sterling to assign a Gershwin-inspired tagline for Juan Soto, singing “He’s Juan-der-ful, marvelous!”

Yet, among the symphony of Sterling’s phrases, there was one refrain that will forever linger in the annals of the Yankees’ history – “Thuuuuuuuh Yankees win!”. His signature elongated “the” captured the indomitable spirit and passion of the Yankees and their fans.

The Yankees organization described Sterling as a paragon of New York spirit, stating, “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.”

Sterling shared his journey with multiple noteworthy broadcasting partners, from Jay Johnstone in 1989-90 to Suzyn Waldman since 2005. Both Sterling and Waldman were rightfully enshrined in the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2016.

A true New Yorker, Sterling began his illustrious career calling games for the NBA’s Washington Bullets and Morgan State football. Then he dived into the world of ice hockey, announcing the Islanders games from 1975-78, and worked the NBA’s Nets games. His bond with the Yankees predated his extensive run as a commentator, which stemmed from his early days as a pregame host.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone bid a wistful farewell, saying, “I grew up listening to Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn. I was the kid falling asleep, like many of you, to the radio. I have a romantic relationship with baseball on the radio. I’m saddened by it, but ultimately want him to be in good health moving forward.”