Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sheppard's death felt throughout Thunder clubhouse

BOWIE, Md. – More than his own time at the plate, Thunder outfielder Justin Christian remembers the first time he heard Bob Sheppard call out the Yankee captain’s name.

“What I remember more than my name being called is Derek Jeter’s, his signature when he comes to an at-bat. His voice has always been recorded for Jeter. It was great to hear that, and I think that’s a tribute to (Sheppard) as a person.”

Starting with Boston’s Dom DiMaggio on May 17, 1951, Sheppard famously dictated every player’s name with the same amount measure, rhythm and respect, whether or not he played for the Yankees.

One such lucky player is Jody Reed, who spent 11 seasons in the show. He made his Yankee Stadium debut in 1987, just seven games into his big league career. He remembers knowing the voice waiting for him, if not the name.

“I didn’t know who Bob Sheppard was, and then you’re hearing him call out the opening lineups, and the voice is so distinct,” said Reed, the Thunder’s interim skipper while Tony Franklin is at the Futures Game. “Of course the veteran guys, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, they tell you who is and you’re like, ‘Wow.’”

For Reed, as his career wore on and the trips to the Bronx became more frequent and familiar, the thrill of hearing Sheppard – who became known as The Voice of God – pronounce his name never grew tiresome.

“Of course, over a 10-year career, hearing Bob announce the name and announce the lineups – and that voice – you never forget it. Hearing that voice (and) the slow, perfect enunciation – and it is booming – it is so distinctive. As you go on, every time you go in there, you look forward to hearing him call your name.”

Thunder hitting coach Frank Menechino, a veteran of seven seasons, was visibly broken up when he heard just before game time about Sheppard’s passing. Hearing his name over the Yankee Stadium loudspeakers meant so much to Menechino that he wanted to whatever he could to have that feeling available forever.

With a little ingenuity and some help from the Yankees’ public relations department, that’s a possibility.

“I have it recorded at home,” Menechino said. “That way I can listen to it over and over, whenever I want.”

That, in a nutshell, tells you all you need to know about the impact Sheppard and his voice made for 58 legendary seasons.

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