In my opinion, to be a true New York Yankees fan means more than just liking the game of baseball or just following the team. To be a true Yankees fan means you are a history student and your teachers are not professors from a university, but the generation before you. And your teachers were taught by the generation before them. My father was my teacher and his father his. Hopefully, I can teach my children this history as they continue to grow.
And in this history lesson as a Yankees fan, you learn about personalities and players, heroes and legends. This week, the Yankees and their fans lost not one, but two legends of the Bronx.
"Ladies and gentleman, your attention please. Welcome to Yankee Stadium." - Bob Sheppard
Two sentences, ten words. Ten simple words so eloquently said so many times by Bob Sheppard. No matter where you might be at the ballpark or what you were doing, when those words were uttered a chill went up your spine.
Bob Sheppard transcended what a public address announcer is and did so by exhibiting class and dignity throughout his distinguished career. He became successful the old-fashioned way, through attention to detail and a desire to be excellent.
The voice lives on, not only every time Derek Jeter is introduced to hit (through a recording of Sheppard's introduction), but it lives on in countless classrooms throughout Yankee Nation with teachers from one generation imitating (although never duplicating) introductions of Mantle and Maris to students from the next generation.
And the voice will continue to live on as teachers from one generation imitating (although never duplicating) introductions of Jeter and O'Neill to students from the next generation.
Just like Sheppard transcended the PA announcer position, George Steinbrenner was a larger than life character that transcended what ownership meant.
Hell, he almost transcended the city of New York.
Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent summed it up best when he said Steinbrenner was complicated. If there were a word that properly hyperbolized complicated, that's the word I would use to describe what Steinbrenner was.
However, much like Sheppard, albeit in a different way, The Boss demanded excellence and he turned around what was, at the time, a much maligned organization and returned it to excellence. There's something to be said about that.
And there is something to be said about how he threw his money around, and I'm not talking about free agents. Steinbrenner gave millions of dollars to a variety of causes, but most times would never attach his name to the donation giving back to the community quietly and anonymously.
Recently, when talking to a friend about the passing of these two legends, he said:
"Wow, Shep and now The Boss. I think they will fill mystique and aura's shoes in the new house quite well and I believe their work has only just begun."
I think the only way that could have been said better is if Bob Sheppard himself said it with The Boss listening from his owner's box.
And There's No Bonz About That.