Monday, April 15, 2024

Yankees Radio Voice John Sterling Retires: "I am a very blessed human being"


Giancarlo Stanton, subject of one of John Sterling's best calls, hit a grand slam, in the announcer's final game on April 7. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees announced on Monday afternoon that their radio play-by-play announcer for the last 35 years, John Sterling, will be retiring effective immediately.

This is sad news, as most Yankees fans under the age of 40 have known only his voice calling the games, and he did it in his signature style, which was marked by his longtime partners Michael Kay, Charley Steiner and Suzyn Waldman.

Sterling also became known for his signature "Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeee Yankees WIN!" call at the end of games, and unique names for each Yankee when they hit a home run - from "The Giambino!" to "Robbie Cano, don't ya know!" and "All Rise! Here comes the Judge!" - both traditions of which began around the start of the Yankees' dynasty in 1996.

Sterling called 5,420 regular season games and 211 postseason games since he started calling games in 1989. That included a streak in which he called 5,060 consecutive games from September 1989 to July 2019. 

The native New Yorker who grew up on the Upper East Side began his career with a talk show on WMCA radio from 1971-78 before he called Nets games from 1975-80, years that included an ABA Championship in 1976, and the Islanders from 1975-79, just before they won four Stanley Cups in a row from 1980-83 for SportsChannel, WWOR-TV, WMCA, and WVNJ. He then moved to Atlanta, where he called Braves games from 1982-87 and the Hawks from 1981-89. 

Sterling also became host of the YES Network's Yankeeography series, for which he has won 12 Emmy Awards since 2003. He has also been honored by the New Jersey Sportswriters Association with its Radio-TV Excellence Award in 1999, and won the 2001 Whitney Radio Jimmy Cannon Award. In 2020, Sterling was honored with the Governor's Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

On Saturday afternoon, Sterling will be honored with a pregame ceremony before the Yankees take on the Tampa Bay Rays, and he will visit the WFAN broadcast booth during the game.

John Sterling released this statement through the Yankees: "I am a very blessed human being. I have been able to do what I wanted, broadcasting for 64 years. 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 Yankees released the following statement: "Fans find a certain comfort in the daily rhythms of baseball. 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 the 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 the 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 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."

The final game Sterling called this season was Sunday, April 7, a game the Yankees won over the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-3, a game that featured a grand slam from Giancarlo Stanton, who provided one of John's more unique calls, as it featured some Italian.

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