Sunday, July 11, 2010

"...Number 7, Mickey Mantle...Number 7."

The voice of God. May 10, 1956 and from out of nowhere the stentorian tones reverberated throughout the old ballpark.

Surrounded by giants, I was too excited to pay attention to anything besides trying to see what was happening on the field. Being 6 and straining to spy past all those heads and shoulders required ones full resources and then some. My Dad elbowed me when Mantle came to bat and that's when I and the rest of Yankee Stadium went quiet.

From tumult to pindrop. The opening innings were always full of buzz and shouts and salutations as friends and family took their own sweet time to settle down, but for Number 7 the place went as quiet as St. Paddys when the Pope was in town.

"Number 7, Mickey Mantle, Number 7."

That's Bob Sheppard, my Father said after noticing my head swiveling to beat the band. Number 7 took Bob Lemon deep, and while we waited to see if Mantle was up to giving autographs after the game my Dad nudged me again as Bob Sheppard passed us by on his way to his car.

Even the nuns loved Bob Sheppard. His English was impeccable and we were urged to listen to anyone speaking so eloquently. Same with Clayton Moore. Sandy Becker, too. Imagine serious educators telling kids to watch TV today because a good role model was teaching as he went about his real job.

No schtick, no me-me-me, just eloquence.

Bob Sheppard died this morning. He was 99.

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