‘Big part of this family’: Jeter, Judge and Volpe pay tribute to retiring Yankees icon John Sterling

The Yankees legend Derek Jeter and John Sterling

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In a move that sent shockwaves through the New York sports landscape, legendary Yankees radio play-by-play announcer John Sterling announced his retirement on Monday, effective immediately. The news was met with an outpouring of tributes and well-wishes from current Yankees players, coaches, and journalists who have long marveled at Sterling’s iconic home run calls and distinctive on-air persona.

Yankees legends Derek Jeter and Aaron Judge salute John Sterling

The Yankees legend Derek Jeter and John Sterling
Sports Illustrated

John Sterling not only found success in the hearts of Yankees fans but also earned the respect of journalists and, of course, the team’s iconic stars. Over the past two decades, his distinctive voice became synonymous with Yankees baseball. Derek Jeter, a legendary figure in the team’s history, took a moment to recognize Sterling’s remarkable career.

As the captain of the Yankees, Aaron Judge, reflected on Sterling’s impact, particularly his memorable home run calls, which have become part of the team’s lore. For players like Judge and rookie Anthony Volpe, experiencing Sterling’s unique commentary for the first time was a cherished moment that left a lasting impression.

“He was so witty, smart,” Aaron Judge said with Yes Network. “John’s a big part of this family and we’re going to miss him. I think just hearing my first home run call from him. As a kid, you always hear it, you watch old Yankee games, you hear the old broadcasts. Getting a chance to hear your own name for the first one, that was pretty special.”

“It was definitely special. Super special,” Volpe said of Sterling’s Italian-infused call of his first career home run: “Anthony Volpe! A spettacolo oggi! Ohhh, the fox socks one to left.” The young infielder noted that his family, like so many Yankees fans, religiously tuned in to Sterling’s radio broadcasts, eager to hear his one-of-a-kind style.

Manager Aaron Boone praised Sterling’s creativity, acknowledging that his home run calls would sometimes “scratch your head,” but always left an indelible mark. “The things he comes up with, sometimes you scratch your head at,” Boone said. “But we all can’t wait to hear it and can’t wait to hear his voice calling them. I think those guys appreciate that.”

The Yankees icon John Sterling

For nearly three decades, John Sterling’s voice has been the soundtrack to Yankees baseball, his calls becoming as much a part of the franchise’s identity as the pinstripes themselves. His retirement marks the end of an era, one that will leave a void in the hearts of devoted Yankees fans who have grown up listening to Sterling’s unique brand of play-by-play.

In the wake of the announcement, players and journalists alike took to social media to express their gratitude and admiration for John Sterling’s legendary career. The journalist Suzyn Waldman said with an interview before the Yankees’ loss to Toronto Blue Jays this Monday: “Nothing will ever be the same. It can’t be. Life goes on, and we all go on, but nothing will ever be the same.”

As the Yankees prepare to move forward into a new era without their iconic broadcaster, the echoes of Sterling’s unforgettable home run calls will undoubtedly linger, forever intertwined with the legacy of one of the most beloved figures in franchise history.

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