Yankees voice John Sterling retiring immediately due to health concerns

John Sterling has reached the end of his illustrious Yankees play-by-play career.

The longtime Yankees radio voice is retiring effective immediately, the team announced Monday afternoon, and he will be honored with a ceremony on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Sterling, 85, is retiring due to health concerns, The Athletic reported.

“I am a very blessed human being,” Sterling said in a release. “I have been able to do what I wanted, broadcasting for 64 years. As a little boy growing up in New York as a Yankees fan, I was able to broadcast the Yankees for 36 years. It’s all to my benefit, and I leave very, very happy. I look forward to seeing everyone again on Saturday.”

John Sterling is retiring from his Yankees radio voice. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

The Yankees offered Sterling a chance to work in a reduced role, but it appears he will walk away altogether.

Sterling has cut down on the amount of games he calls in recent seasons — he does not travel as often — due to recent health concerns.

Justin Shackil, 37, and Emmanuel Berbari, 24, are Sterling’s replacements on WFAN.

“Yankees radio will never quite sound the same without the signature voice, wit and humor of John Sterling,” WFAN said in a statement. “To generations of Bronx Bombers fans, he was a beloved companion that when you heard John, you knew it was time for baseball. Though he never wore the pinstripes, except of course for his fine tailored suits, he was one of the most colorful personalities in Yankees history and in all of New York City radio. All of us at WFAN tip our cap and salute our colleague and friend on a truly iconic career.” 

Sterling has been the voice of the Yankees since 1989, a stretch that has included five World Series championships.

He has been calling the games alongside Suzyn Waldman since 2005, which was when Michael Kay became the TV play-by-play broadcaster for YES Network after years of being paired with Sterling on radio.

Sterling’s signature home run call, which any reader can hear in his/her head upon seeing it in print, was “It is high, it is far, it is gone!”

Sterling with Suzyn Waldman and Joe Torre in 2007 before a Yankees-Mets game. Charles Wenzelberg

After Bombers victories, he would exclaim, “Yankees win — the Yankees win”, with “the” drawn out longer for bigger accomplishments.

“Fans find a certain comfort in the daily rhythms of baseball. Day in and day out, season after season, and city after city, John Sterling used his seat in the broadcast booth to bring Yankees fans the heartbeat of the game, employing an orotund voice and colorful personality that were distinctly, unmistakably his own,” the Yankees said in a statement. “John informed and entertained, and he exemplified what it means to be a New Yorker with an unapologetic and boisterous style that exuded his passion for baseball, broadcasting and the New York Yankees.”

In an interview with The Athletic earlier this month, Sterling responded “not very” when asked how much longer he plans to call Yankees games though he didn’t have a set retirement date.

“Obviously, I’m near the end,” he told the website. “I’ve been on the air 64 years and I’m so tired of traveling. The games are fine. They’re easy.”

Sterling could retire this week due to health concerns. New York Post

Sterling has remained a sentimental favorite of Yankees fans, who wished the day he’d retire from the job would never come.

Sterling’s career began in 1970 as the announcer for the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards), and prior to his time as voice of the Yankees he also spent years doing Nets, Islanders, Braves and
Hawks games.