John Sterling, longtime Yankees voice, to announce future plans, possibly retire: Sources

John Sterling, longtime Yankees voice, to announce future plans, possibly retire: Sources


The legendary radio voice of the Yankees, John Sterling, is planning to hold a news conference later this week to announce plans on his future, he told The Athletic.

There is an expectation among the Yankees and WFAN officials that he will retire because of health concerns, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. The team and the station have left it up to Sterling, leaving the possibility he could change his mind.

“We are going to have a press conference to do everything,” Sterling said. Sterling declined to confirm that he will retire and has been famously reluctant to do so. He is not scheduled to call a game until Friday in the Bronx against the Tampa Bay Rays. He had already cut back the number of road games he is doing this year.

If Sterling goes through with his retirement, it is expected to go into effect immediately. WFAN would replace Sterling with 37-year-old Justin Shackil and 24-year-old Emmanuel Berbari, who combined are 24 years younger than Sterling. The two are already slated to call the majority of the road games this season with Suzyn Waldman.

Sterling, 85, was the soundtrack to the Derek Jeter-led Yankees title run from 1996 to 2000, when the franchise won four World Series in five years. He also made the call when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009, a team led by CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez. Sterling, who began calling Yankees games in 1989, punctuated the team’s wins with, “Thuuuuuu-uggh Yankees win!”



Inside the booth with Yankees legend John Sterling for his 36th home opener: ‘I’m near the end’

His unique home run calls live in Yankee lore with memorable calls including “Bern, baby, Bern!” for Bernie Williams and “A thrilla from Godzilla” for Hideki Matsui.

While Sterling has never been known for the most precise call of the game, he was a broadcasting version of Lou Gehrig, calling 5,060 consecutive games over 30 years. During the first of his nearly 36 seasons, Sterling missed two games due to the death of his sister. He was on the call for every other game until July 4, 2019, when illness caused him to miss a series.

Sterling broadcast the Atlanta Braves and Hawks before becoming the voice of the Yankees. He used his rhythmic nickname style for Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins, saying, “Dominique, manifique!”

But he will be most remembered for his Yankees years and his uniqueness on and off the air.

Even on the radio, Sterling wore a suit to every game he called. While technology averse, his voicemail on his cellphone greeted callers with, “Hi, congratulations, you have reached …”

He developed a strong bond with much of the Yankees fan base, many of whom have gone from the crib to adulthood only knowing him as the radio voice of their team. On Friday, Sterling plans to say if his legendary run has come to an end.

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(Photo: Bob Karp / Staff Photographer / USA Today Network)


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