He’s A Part of the Team, Too: Sterling Is A Yankee Legend

Now, someone reading this has no idea who I am (actually, at this point, I think most of the people who might read this do know who I am), but I still want to acknowledge that something affected me last week much more than I thought it would. The soundtrack to my first 31 summers on this planet effectively had the plug pulled on it because, well, because John Sterling retired. And I have been despondent.

Maybe my sadness stems from the fact that in an age of retirement tours and standing ovations, Mr. Sterling left rather abruptly. A short celebration at “The Stadium”, sure, but no real chance to brace myself for what the call on a Yankee game will now sound like without his voice welcoming me in for a game. Something he did by always first thanking his “compañera” Suzyn Waldman and then issuing all of us a “good evening” that could be mistaken for a muscle relaxant. But the odds are my sadness stems from a much more personal place.

After all, I do not know what a Yankee game sounds like without him. For 31 years, his voice has brought me my games. As a little kid, my dad would have the game on in the car as I drifted in and out of consciousness after playing in the sun all day at my cousin’s house. Now, I have the game on in the car as my little kids drift in and out of consciousness on the way home. Every big moment in my life, good or bad, that has taken place between then and now has, in a way, been narrated by Mr. Sterling. And it is because of this that when he announced his retirement, I was affected.

And it made me think. John Sterling is as big a part of the Yankees as the players are.

Nine guys on the field, twenty-six on the roster, but only one giving you the call. An exceptionally important job on the radio since that one voice is responsible for painting the picture in your mind. Fine, Mr. Sterling may not have always delivered something worthy of the Louvre. But he turned in a “Bob Ross” every single night for 35 years. That is to say, he was a shoo-in for a comfortable, friendly, fun, and informative few hours of storytelling, with a baseball game mixed in.

And like the end results of all of those Bob Ross paintings, hearing “ball game over, Yankees win. THAAAAA YANKEES WIN!” never failed to deliver.  Mr. Sterling, like all those players who wore single digits, is a Yankee legend, here’s why.

He’s A Part of the Team Too: Sterling Is A Yankee Legend

The Voice:

There are certain traits that people possess that no amount of studying or training could enhance. Some things are God-given. Like, no matter what you do, you won’t just magically grow to be as tall as Victor Wembanyama. In this same sense, nothing that anybody does to train will give them the set of golden pipes that John Sterling has. A voice from the heavens. One that could cut through your worst day and deliver a sense of calmness throughout your body.

Yankee fans know that Bob Sheppard, the late public address announcer, was nicknamed “The Voice of God.” Well, if that’s true, then Mr. Sterling should be nicknamed “The Voice of Jesus.” The man could announce a chess tournament and I would tune in just so I could hear that silky smooth voice let me know that the bishop was moved to E5. An ability to captivate with just the tenner of one’s voice is not something that can be taught or trained. It simply needs to be enjoyed and appreciated.

The Longevity

The best ability is availability. And John Sterling was always available. Known for his quirky home run calls, what is often overlooked is the fact that Mr. Sterling announced 5,060 consecutive Yankee games. For over 45,500 consecutive innings of Yankees baseball, Sterling was there. Rain delays, extra innings, double headers, summer scorchers, and chilled April nights, he was there. The Yankee “Iron Horse” is Lou Gehrig. His record was believed to be unbreakable until Cal Ripken set the precedent at 2,632 consecutive games. All Sterling did was surpass Gehrig’s mark by 2,930 games, and pass Ripken by 2,425 games. It’s safe to say that if Lou is the Yankees iron horse of the playing field, John Sterling is the iron horse of the broadcast booth.

This type of longevity allowed Sterling to attach his name to the careers of some of the greatest players in not only Yankees history, but baseball history. Anything that Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, or Jorge Posada did, was narrated by John. He was there for some of Don Mattingly‘s biggest moments. Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, David Cone, Robinson Cano, Andy Pettitte, Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, Ichiro Suzuki, and countless others have had pieces of their illustrious careers called by him. John’s longevity has allowed him to be around for some of the greatest careers the sport has ever seen.

The Moments

The mixture of longevity and the success of the teams that John Sterling was around for, has etched his name in the annals of baseball history as he is on the call for some of the most memorable moments the sport has seen. His highlight tape is full of epic moment after epic moment. While some of that does come down to luck, (after all, if he was on the radio for the Kansas City Royals, these moments would not have fallen into his lap), the reality is that John was not just lucky to have the seat he did, but he was damn good at his job and kept the seat he had. Therefore, the moments that fell in his lap only did so because of his incredible ability.

His resume includes, but is not limited to the following massive moments:

  • 5 World Series Championships
  • Two Perfect Games (David Wells and David Cone)
  • 3 No Hitters (Jim Abbott, Dwight Gooden, Corey Kluber)
  • Derek Jeter (“The Flip”, “The Dive”, Jeffry Maher, Mr. November, 3,000 hit)
  • Aaron Boone‘s Game 7 Walk-off Homer
  • Every Single Save of Mariano Rivera’s Career
  • Roger Clemens 4,000 Strikeout
  • Aaron Judge‘s 62nd Home Run

The list could go on and on, but you get the point. Big moment, John was there.

The Mistakes

One of the constant slights against this Yankee legend is the fact that he made some mistakes, primarily towards the end of his illustrious career. He would lead a listener to think that Gardner had “planted one” in the right field seats, only to have Suzyn correct him and let us know that the ball had actually been caught in foul territory by the catcher. And yes, this did happen at times towards the end. But this did not take away from the broadcast. On the contrary, it added to it!

First, it created a back-and-forth between John and the listener. On more than one occasion I was guilty of yelling “COME ON JOHN!” at my radio as a run came off the board because of a “It is high, it is far, it is….. CAUGHT at the wall!” I felt like John was my uncle and we were having a friendly yelling match across the airwaves. It was fun! Second, let’s not all act high and mighty. Anybody who complains about some of the mistakes acts like they never jumped off the couch on a ball that ended up being nothing more than a lazy fly-out. We’ve all done it. John is one of us! The relateability added to his charm. He was a fan like the rest of us. Overreacted, at times, like the rest of us.

Legends Never Die

John Sterling may have announced his retirement last week, but his impact on the entire Yankees franchise, and baseball overall will always be felt. Some of the most iconic moments in Yankee history are forever attached to his majestic voice. His quirky home run calls will always bring a smile to the face of any fan, or any ex-player lucky enough to have had one created for them. John’s longevity will be hard to match, and his resume of big moments simply will not be duplicated. He is, without a doubt, an all-time Yankee legend.

Main Image: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

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Sofia :D

This is the best Article ever 😀 Love the work!!!


This is a good article.


Amazing article as always!


Good word curto awsome work


Nice Mr. Curto


nice article, keep up the work

Phil d

Well written article. Great work Ryan Curto


I shed many tears watching his farewell ceremony and I only started really watching baseball last year ! What a voice.

Lauren G.

Very well said, Mr. Curto!

Justin Portente

Can’t help to think that I’ll be feeling the same way when Howie or Gary Cohen say farewell! Great article!!

Timothy Abbaia

Put him in monument park!


I read this article and its SO GOOD.. and my son did too he loved it now hes doing a project on this!!!


nice article!

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