On Wednesday, there was a report that Bob Sheppard's son said that the longtime Yankees P.A. announcer would be retiring. That news made sense. Sheppard is 98 and missed all of 2008 with a bronchial infection that's keeping him from being at the opening of the new stadium.
Later Wednesday, however, Paul Sheppard, through a Yankee spokeseman, said that the report was inaccurate. The initial accounting, which came via Jack Curry of the New York Times, misrepresented comments he made about missing Opening Day.
Still, the day isn't too far off when Sheppard's absence goes from temporary to permanent. The Yankees have accepted that, and are starting to make plans for how lineups will be announced in the future. They've told Paul Olden, who will be at the microphone in Sheppard's absence, that he should mimic Sheppard's style.
“The Yankees have asked me to do certain things in the Bob Sheppard style, especially the lineups,” Olden Said. “It will be the way things are done from here on, whether I’m doing them, or Bob’s doing them, or anybody else.”
That's fine, so long as all the Yankees mean is that announcers will say "At shortstop, number two, Derek Jeter. Number Two." They should do that, it's as much a Stadium tradition as Monument Park. No one wants the Yankees announcer to become something out of the NBA. In baseball, the more understated the better.
At the same time, though, they shouldn't want the announcer to do an impression of Sheppard. That's what happened in 2008, and all it proved is that Sheppard's style is inimitable. He's the "Voice of God," and there should be enough respect paid to that voice that you don't go looking for a weak version of it.
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.