09 March 2015

yankee memorials for the voice of god, the boss, and the major

july of 2010 was not kind to the yankees.  on july 11, bob sheppard, the public address announcer at yankee stadium for 56 years, died at the age of 99.  then, their long time owner, 80-year old george steinbrenner, died on july 13 after suffering a heart attack.  just over a week later, ralph houk, who managed the team for much of the 1960's and into the 1970's, passed away on july 21 at the age of 90.

steinbrenner's passing came on the day of the 2010 all-star game, and the yankee representatives in the midsummer classic wore a black armband in his honor.  here's robinson cano's 2010 topps update card showing the black armband he wore during that game.
after the break, however, a different memorial for steinbrenner was fashioned, and a memorial patch for sheppard was added as well.

steinbrenner's patch (featuring his name, initials, and nickname of "the boss") was worn on the left chest as seen on kerry wood's 2010 topps update card
as well as lance berkman's 2011 topps card
the best example of it that i have is this 2011 topps marquee robinson cano card
so cano represents both steinbrenner memorials in my binder.

the patch for sheppard was worn on the left sleeve, and can be seen on the alex rodriguez 2011 topps highlight card below
that's the card that i have in my binder for the sheppard patch, although it is tough to make out the details of the patch.  here's a better look at it
there were a few games prior to houk's passing in which the yankees wore both patches, but after houk died, they added the black armband to the left sleeve as seen in the marquee cano and the the wood, berkman, and a-rod topps cards above.  here's a 2011 topps curtis granderson card that shows all three memorials pretty nicely.
i use the 2011 topps yankee team card as my representative for the houk memorial
even though all three are present.  only the black armband is visible on mariano rivera, however, so the houk tribute is somewhat isolated.

sheppard was the 'voice of yankee stadium' as his patch denotes from 1951 through early september, 2007.  also referred to as 'the voice of god', sheppard's recorded voice was used to announce the starting lineup for the final game in (old) yankee stadium on september 21, 2008, as well as every derek jeter home at bat up for the remainder of jeter's career.  this also included jeter's at bat in the 2014 all-star game in minneapolis, and his introduction at the 2010 all-star game in anaheim which came just a couple of days after sheppard's death.

steinbrenner purchased the yankees in 1973 with a group of other investors who quickly realized that "there is nothing in life quite so limited as being a limited partner of george steinbrenner".  steinbrenner ran the team as he saw fit, famously hiring, firing, and re-hiring managers and general managers along the way. he brought in free agent players to rebuild the club, and was rewarded with world championships in 1977 and 1978.  after losing the 1981 world series to the dodgers and failing to make the postseason for the remainder of the decade, steinbrenner was vocal in his criticism of his team and players, particularly dave winfield. steinbrenner actually hired someone to try to dig up disparaging information on winfield, an act that led to steinbrenner's banishment from day-to-day team management by commissioner fay vincent in 1990.  although he was reinstated in 1993, steinbrenner did not meddle as much in the operations of the club, and he was rewarded with a run of world series titles in the latter part of the decade.  the yankees won their seventh and final world series of steinbrenner's ownership in 2009.

houk, nicknamed 'the major', took over for casey stengel as the yankee manager in 1961, and led the team to world series victories that year and the following season as well.  his team won a third straight pennant in 1963, but the yankees were swept by the dodgers in the ensuing fall classic.  houk moved to the front office after that, and as the general manager, he hired yogi berra and later johnny keane to manage the club.  houk fired keane during the 1966 season and took over the reins once again, but couldn't bring the yankees to finish higher than second place in any of the following seven seasons. after the 1973 season, steinbrenner's first as the owner, houk resigned and took the tigers' managerial job instead. although there was speculation that houk didn't enjoy working for steinbrenner was the reason for his departure, houk maintained that he was instead frustrated by the constant booing of the yankee fans.


Anthony Burbatt said...

Seeing Woody in a Yankee uniform is still a jarring sight. So is Berkman for that matter. These posts must take exhaustive research!

gcrl said...

Thanks for the comment Anthony. I do a fair amount of research, but luckily the hall of fame has a pretty good list of these memorials.