Bob Sheppard’s passing last weekend received some deserved attention in the sports world. His greatness was not limited to the genetics that gave him a deep, resonant voice.
Sheppard was great because he announced players, their numbers, and their position without embellishment. He never tried to excite the crowd, and never had to. With the same, even tone Sheppard announced, “Now batting… number five… Joe DiMaggio… number five” in 1951 and “Now batting… number nineteen… Bubba Crosby… number nineteen” in 2006. Sheppard was like a good journalist – he presented facts and allowed those facts to speak for themselves. The Yankee Stadium crowd knew when the starts were coming to the plate, and Sheppard didn’t insult the crowd by embellishing names to prompt wild cheers.
The strategy of simplicity may seem boring. For his choice of simplicity, Sheppard wound up with a plaque on the outfield wall of Yankee Stadium, memorializing his voice along with the players who were announced by it.