Thursday, July 15, 2010
Remembering Yankee Stadium's Catholic "Voice of God"
Bob Sheppard was the public address announcer at Yankee Stadium for nearly 60 years. During this unprecedented tenure, he introduced nearly every modern day baseball legend, including Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Jackie Robinson. His unique and unmatched vocal style has been so revered that he was nicknamed "The Voice of God" by hall of famer, Reggie Jackson.
While most knew Bob as a baseball icon, he would have wanted to be remembered as a man of faith. His Catholicism permeated every aspect of his profession. Ballplayers and team staff members followed his example and attended Sunday Mass in the stadium's locker room while reporters and commentators were known to clean up their language around him.
During the eloquent eulogies that he delivered when a member of the baseball community or well-known person died, he invited those in attendance to stand for a moment of silent prayer. Bob did this in a simple witness to his faith.
Bob was an active member of St. Christopher's parish in Baldwin, NY, where he attended daily Mass and served as a lector. Hearing Bob’s famed voice proclaim the Scripture must have been an unforgettable experience for many.
As a life-long Yankees fan, I was humbled and honored to have interviewed Bob for an adult Bible study project I worked on a number of years ago. Like many people, Bob wasn't sure how to pronounce my last name. Since the common pronunciation has been Americanized (Dah ZEE nah), he didn't hesitate to tell me he preferred the proper Polish pronunciation (Jah JE nah). Either way, I was thrilled to hear him say my name.
For those who are Yankees fan or and those who are not, Bob was an example of humility, integrity, and commitment to his Catholic faith. May he rest in peace.
David Dziena is an OSV acquisitions editor.
Posted by John Norton at 11:06 AM