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On the passing of Bob Sheppard

Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff  July 12, 2010 10:10 AM

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300sheppard.jpgDidn't know him, but didn't we all feel as if we did?

Speaking of the late Bob Sheppard, who raised the art of sports public address announcing to an other-worldly state, of course. You may hate the Yankees, but you could only admire Bob Sheppard, who made attending Yankee games semi-religious experiences the instant he opened his mouth to emit those glorious tones.

I have somewhere in my possession a cassette tape -- kiddies, ask your dad and mom -- of a mid-80s radio interview I was part of with Jon Miller, the Hall of Fame broadcaster (not that the fools running WITS at the time had any idea), who himself has a phenomenal voice, and who does spot-on imitations of many, including Sherm Feller, Vin Scully and, yes, Bob Sheppard. In the course of this interview, Miller had Bob Sheppard ordering breakfast. I really and truly laughed into tears, right there on the air. It is beyond priceless.

Well, guess what? At the tail end of Richard Goldstein's New York Times obituary, he has Sheppard telling a tale of ordering breakfast at a NYC eatery, only to have the waitress say, "You sound like Jon Miller's imitation."

I didn't see it in any of his journalistic tributes, but I am sure he had said many times that of all the events for which he did the PA, starting with the Brooklyn Dodgers football games in the old AAFC, his all-time favorite time was the famed Colts-Giants 1958 sudden-death OT classic.

And how about this? The first time I attended a basketball game at St. John's, guess who did the PA?

He had a particular fondness for Spanish-sounding names, according to all the testimony, but one of my favorites was "Frank Cat-a-la-not-to. Cat-a-la-not-to." I'm sure you have yours.

For a while I thought it was too bad he never got to work in the new Yankee Stadium, but now I think it's just as well. He belongs to the old one, not the crass new one with the unoccupied high-roller seats behind home plate.

Listen closely when Derek Jeter steps in there Tuesday night. They will use the Sheppard intro. So we know baseball knows how to do at least one thing right.

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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
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Bob is an award-winning columnist for the Globe and the host of "Globe 10.0" on Boston.com.

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