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The "Voice of God" falls silent

I try usually not to stray too far from the topic of the Cardinals. But sometimes I make exceptions for issues that span the whole of Major League Baseball... With that in mind, I tip my cap to longtime Yankee Stadium public address announcer Bob Sheppard who has died just shy of his 100th birthday.

Sheppard, nicknamed "The Voice of God" by Reggie Jackson because of his commanding presence, greeted fans and introduced players in the Bronx for more than 50 years. His career spanned the last days of Joe DiMaggio in 1951 to the Derek Jeter-Alex Rodriguez era in 2007. Jeter still has a recording of Sheppard's deliberate yet stoic delivery played before every home plate appearance.

Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard re-creates the pre-game ceremonies from game six the 1951 World Series on its 50th anniversary in 2001.

Sheppard, a few years back, made the cross-state trip when the Yankees played a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium and announced the lineups for both teams. It was a pretty neat moment.

A PA announcer seems like such a small part of a baseball club. But they really give a ballpark its identity and its personality. Mickey Mantle was quoted as telling Sheppard that it gave the former Yankees centerfielded goosebumps to hear the famed announcer introduce him. Sheppard replied that it gave him goosbumps to get to introduce Mantle.

It's fitting, as much as I hated to see the old Yankee Stadium go, that the team doesn't play there anymore. It's hard to imagine the Big Ballpark in the Bronx without Sheppard.