Why Didn't Yankee Players Go to Bob Sheppard's Funeral?

No Yankee players attended Sheppard's funeral

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Jul 16, 2010  |  Updated 2:01 PM EDT
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Why Didn't Yankee Players Go to Bob Sheppard's Funeral?

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The Yankees are going to pay tribute to Bob Sheppard this weekend at Yankee Stadium and they're going to wear a patch on their uniforms in his memory for the rest of the season. But that's not enough for them to escape a little bit of controversy.

Sheppard's funeral was Thursday on Long Island and no Yankee players made the trip to the service. To Bill Madden of the Daily News, this is a sign that the team lacks class and that it will continue to lack class now that George Steinbrenner has passed away.

It was just too bad that not a single player whose name Sheppard introduced, ever so properly and eloquently, over 57 years as the Yankees' P.A. announcer, was among those paying their final respects to the "Voice of God." Even if one player - certainly one among the former players employed by the team for this very purpose - would have shown up, it would have provided the touch of class George Steinbrenner always made sure to exhibit in these circumstances.

Madden gets pretty heated up about this but it doesn't really feel like it was the enormous slight he makes it out to be. Brian Cashman gave a eulogy at the church service and several other members of the Yankee front office staff made the trip out to Baldwin as well. Those were the people Sheppard knew best in the organization.

He wasn't a television or radio announcer who traveled with the team or needed regular interactions with the players to do his job. Perhaps he'd meet with them to get the proper pronunciation of their name when they joined the team but outside of that he wasn't in much contact with any of the players and there are likely many of the guys Madden calls out who didn't meet him at all. Madden admits as much and writes that Sheppard "probably would not have felt slighted" by the absence of players.

On top of that, the timing of the funeral didn't make attendance by current players particularly easy. With the All-Star break extending until Friday night for the Yankees, it's a safe bet that a good many of the players weren't even in the New York area on Thursday. Had it been a more routine week of the season with the Yankees in town, it's a pretty good bet that you would have seen some or all the current players at the church.

Taking all of that into account, is this really even an issue? Would it have been nice to see Derek Jeter or Reggie Jackson or Yogi Berra show up on Thursday? Sure. It's a mighty big stretch to go from there to the Yankees lacking class, though.  

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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