Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Classy Bunch

It was just too bad that not a single player whose name Sheppard introduced, ever so properly and eloquently, over 57 years as the Yankees' P.A. announcer, was among those paying their final respects to the "Voice of God." Even if one player - certainly one among the former players employed by the team for this very purpose - would have shown up, it would have provided a touch of class... Bill Madden

Where were you Henry?-Goodfellas

Say it isn't so. Bob Sheppard- the man who was the public address announcer at Yankee Stadium since before the microphone was even invented- dies and not one Yankee shows up to his funeral? How can this be? What happened to Yankee tradition? And class? I thought they did everything the right way?

I thought they would have had Bernie Williams playing Ava Maria on his guitar to open the service-that didn't happen?

And have it arranged so that Mariano walked into the church to the sounds of "Enter Sandman".

What about the starting infield? They had to be there-right? I mean the Bleacher Creatures, those wonderfully trained seals, were in the back of the church ready to rhythmically clap and chant their names until they received a tip of the cap from their Yankee heroes. And those players were a no show? Listen, we really have to hand it to those Bleacher Creatures. They put on two shows a day at the Coney Island Aquarium and then take the D train all the way to the Bronx. I hope their trainer throws them a few extra fish for their efforts.

And what about the gorilla-faced monkey-boy Yankee Manager Joe Retardi? He couldn't make it? This missing link of a man blew of the legendary Bob Sheppard's funeral? I know there was a lot of traffic-but he couldn't swing from tree to tree and get there? But to be honest, Retardi has come a long way. One minute he's on the Discovery Channel being harpooned with a tranquillizing dart and fitted with a device to track his movements, the next thing you know, you turn on the YES Network and there he is, making his way to the mound to take out AJ Burnett while Michael Kay says "this call to the jungle is brought to you by Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom". If you look real close, the YES cameras will catch Retardi picking the nits out of his chest.

And speaking of managers, how could they have a solemn church service without Saint Joseph of Torre? With Zim seating next to him giving advice whenever the camera was on them-like in the old days? Saint Joseph walks on water-he couldn't get to a church on Long Island?

Now, if anyone knows about tradition, and respect for Yankee history, it's Roger Clemens. I mean, before every start, right before coming in from the bullpen, wouldn't he wipe his brow with Babe Ruth's cock? That's commitment to excellence right there. Why didn't he show? Did his indictment come down?

And the beloved CORE FOUR. Combined, they have played about 1,000 years with our beloved Yankees. Bob Sheppard has said their names out loud more times than their parents have.

And they blew him off.

Maybe they were taking their cue from the classiest Yankee of them all, Derek "The Tax Cheater" Jeter.

Here is the Jeter's the Tax Cheater's lame statement:

To be quite honest with you, I didn't even know his funeral was (Thursday). Having said that, I don't necessarily think you have to go to a funeral to honor somebody. That's the reason I've recorded his voice throughout the years and I will continue to honor him every time I go to the plate for the rest of my career.

He did not know there was a funeral? What did they think they did with his body, burn it and dump it into the Hudson? As a friend of mine said, "He should have asked me-I knew there was going to be a funeral for Bob Sheppard. Because that is what happens when people die, they have a funeral."

Regarding Jeter's claim that he uses Sheppard's voice to announce his at bats as a way of honoring Sheppard-that is about as valid as Clemens saying Andy (Family Man) Pettite "misremembered" when he testified before Congress and said that Roger hooked him up with steroids.

How exactly is he honoring Sheppard? By having a personalized vanity greeting that no one else on the team gets to have? Sounds like a guy getting an extra perk. Sounds like a guy singling himself out selfishly from the team. Sounds like a guy who wants to honor himself. Sounds like a guy who at this point has less range than Bob Sheppard does at shortstop.

Jeter would have showed if the family agreed to use Bob Sheppard's voice to announced his arrival into the church.

When you consider that the Yankees have been playing baseball since the game was invented, it really is mind-boggling that NOT ONE past or present Yankee showed up to honor Sheppard.

Given the huge volume of former Yankees running around, you would think a couple of them would have stumbled into the church by accident or that Luis Sojo would have had a landscaping business on Long Island and would have stopped by to pay his respects.

But it is never to late to learn how to do the right thing. The classy thing. Even for teams that were owned by a man who, as we speak, is probably wearing his trademark turtleneck while burning in hell right now-as the devil pokes him with a pitchfork shaped with the famous interlocking "NY."

And they could learn by emulating how the Mets handled the death of their version of Bob Sheppard-the beloved Bob Murphy, who died of lung cancer in August 2004.

Here is the New York Times account of Bob Murphy's funeral, which took place at St. Patrick's Cathedral:

In the crowd of about 1,200 in the cathedral were fans in Mets jerseys and T-shirts; current Mets Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, John Franco and Manager Art Howe, and the former Mets Keith Hernandez, Bud Harrelson, Ed Charles and Ed Kranepool.
Ralph Kiner, an original Mets voice like Murphy and the late Lindsey Nelson, was there. So were Joan Hodges and Maxine Agee, whose late husbands and Murphy are forever linked to the 1969 Mets, who won the World Series over Baltimore.

Players were there. Former players were there. Announcers. Widows of Met players and their families. And of course: Met fans.

But the Mets are not the Yankees you see.

And lets hope they never will be.

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