For the most part sports are sports, we cheer, we scream, we root for our favorite team or player. Sometimes we boo, we heckle, we shout obscenities, we throw things and we are heartbroken over a loss. But sometimes a loss in the sports world means something much more than just one less win. Sometimes it's losing a person and it can feel as if you have lost a family member or a good friend.
The New York Yankee family has lost two of its most meaningful members in the last three days; 99 year old Robert Leo “Bob” Sheppard, who died early Sunday morning, was the public address announcer for the Yankees for 57 years. He began his Bronx Bomber career in 1951and was the “voice of the Yankees” until 2008 when he became ill and his health did not permit him to continue to announce for the entire 2008 season. He officially retired in 2009. Yankee captain and shortstop Derek Jeter requested a recording of Sheppard announcing his at-bats. He has used that same recording since Sheppard’s retirement and has said that he will continue to use it for the duration of his Yankee career, which should be until he retires.
Another sudden loss to the family came just this morning when “The Boss”, George Michael Steinbrenner III, principal owner of the Yanks, passed away due to what was reported as a massive heart attack. Only nine days after turning 80 years old and on the day the Yankees will send nine players to the 2010 MLB All-Star game including manager Joe Giradi. Steinbrenner left the team to be run by his two sons, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner in 2006 and resided in Florida where the Yankees as well as many other teams hold spring training. The park that the Yankees call their pre-season home is named after Steinbrenner. He has been hated by many, especially by fans of other teams for the “buying” of high priced free agents during off seasons and recruiting them to the Yankees which yielded much of their success.
Undoubtedly, the Yankee reputation and history holds an immeasurable amount of pride and professionalism. Despite what anyone has to say about the organization or anyone involved with the organization, they do what it takes to win. Something that saddened me, a die-hard Yankees fan myself, earlier upon learning of Steinbrenner’s death were some of the comments posted on various sports sites about his demise. The majority paid their respects and offered their sincerest condolences. But there were others who couldn’t seem to put aside their sports bias and simply acknowledge that a person had passed away. Yes, these two men were Yankee and baseball icons in general and that is something that indeed helped make them famous but ultimately they were human beings with families and friends who will be missed dearly by many.
This week the baseball world mourns these losses with a heavy heart and will continue to carry on the tradition that makes it one of our country’s most beloved pastimes. Not to mention, now the Yankees will have even more motivation to go ahead and win yet another World Championship for “the Voice” and “the Boss”.