Howard Kellman at Yankee booth: A tale of a unique fan-franchise relationship

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Howard Kellman, who took to the mic more than 6,000 times for Indianapolis in over four decades, filled in for John Sterling at the Yankees booth on September 2 at Tropicana Field. The Triple-A sportscaster has a long history of relationship with the Yankees that predates his career as a baseball voice.

Born in Sheepshead Bay, Kellman graduated from Brooklyn College in the 1970s. This was around the period when George Steinbrenner led a group of investors to acquire the New York Yankees.

Kellman, then in his 20’s, was an ardent fan of the Yankees. The young man always aspired to become a play-by-player for MLB. Once he wrote to Steinbrenner expressing his desire and permission to join the team. Steinbrenner accepted it and let Kellman practice in a Yankee Stadium broadcast booth.

After decades, the 70-year-old Kellman is returning to the Yankees booth again to call the game against the Rays game in Tampa on Friday.

The Yankees have cut down on 84-year-old John Sterling’s travel in the second half of the season, so he only has to go to one game.

It is special for Kellman, who has been a Yankee fan his whole life.

“This is a great thrill,” Kellman told while showing his elation over the offer.

Even though he has never been a full-time MLB announcer, Kellman has had a successful career. The broadcaster continues to become Triple-A play-by-player for the Indians since 1976. Kellman is also a part of the sports broadcasting high school football and basketball games for more than three decades.

The Friday game at Tampa is not the first MLB call for Kellman. He earlier did it in 1984 for the White Sox and in 2014 for the Mets. He called at least 20 NBA games from 1988-89. He’s been mentored by Ernie Harwell, Marty Glickman, and Marv Albert.

In the 1980s, he said that Cleveland, Baltimore, and St. Louis were all very close to giving him a job. He said that he gave up on the major leagues in the 1990s when baseball, basketball, and football were all played in Indianapolis.

Because of Steinbrenner, Kellman got in touch with Randy Levine and Lonn Trost of the Yankees. Levine told him to talk to Chris Oliviero, the head of Audacy’s New York office. Audacy is the company that owns WFAN.

A few weeks ago, Oliviero suggested playing in Tampa on September 2. It’s him. Since he was a kid, he’s been a Yankees fan. He even wrote a book titled “61 Humorous and Inspiring Lessons I Learned from Baseball” with a nod to Roger Maris.

Kellman told a story from his childhood about the Yankees. He still remembers how the Yankees fired Casey Stengel following their defeat to the Pirates in the 1960 World Series.

‘I’ll never make the mistake of being 70 again,’ Kellman said remembering Stengel saying. “The Yankees are treating me at age 70 better than they treated Casey Stengel.”

Are you too a life-long fan of the Yankees like Howard Kellman? How do you find the current New York lineup at Tampa?

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