John Sterling concedes curtain nearing Yankees career but coy on exit date

John Sterling is at Yankees booth in Yankee Stadium on April 8, 2024.
Michael Bennington
Tuesday April 9, 2024

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The voice of John Sterling voice has resonated across New York Yankees radio broadcasts for an impressive 36 seasons. However, his broadcasting journey extends far beyond the pinstripes, starting long before his time with the Yankees. He has served as the play-by-play announcer for various teams including the Baltimore Bullets, the New York Islanders, and the New Jersey Nets.

As time passes, John Sterling, the legendary voice of the Yankees, is feeling the effects of age (along with a few classic baseball metaphors). Now 85 years old, with over six decades of broadcasting experience, he acknowledges that his signature home run calls won’t resonate through the airwaves indefinitely.

In a recent interview with Brendan Kuty of The Athletic, John Sterling, the WFAN play-by-play announcer, brushed off any notion of imminent retirement plans. With a chuckle, he mentioned that there wasn’t anything significant on the horizon.

John Sterling returned to Yankees booth at Yankee Stadium on June 11, 2023, a day after a foul ball hit him in the head.

“Obviously, I’m near the end. I’ve been on the air 64 years and I’m so tired of traveling,” he said.

“I don’t know the date. Depends on how I’m doing and how I feel.”

The legend of John Sterling nearing the end

While acknowledging his lengthy career (spanning 64 years) and its eventual conclusion, John Sterling admitted a strong aversion to travel but maintained his enduring passion for the games themselves, finding them effortless.

The long-time Yankees voice clarified that he had not set a specific retirement date, stressing that it would hinge on his future health and well-being.

Reducing his travel commitments, John Sterling chose a lighter schedule for the latter half of the 2022 MLB season, focusing primarily on games played in the northeastern United States. This approach has persisted, allowing him to maintain a more localized broadcasting routine.

During the last season, illness caused John Sterling to miss several games. He even persevered through a broadcast after taking a foul ball to the head, sporting a head bandage! A notable event occurred in late September during a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, marking the first time since 1989 that neither Sterling nor his longtime partner, Suzyn Waldman, were in the booth together.

Yankees announcer John Sterling with a fan.

“When I start doing the game,” he said, “it’s the easiest thing that I do. By far. Everything else is tough for me at this age — and being alone and having to do everything myself.”

Despite these setbacks and the realization that his illustrious career is nearing its end, John Sterling remains determined to continue calling games for as long as he feels capable of rising to the challenge.

John Sterling noted that calling the games themselves remained the most straightforward aspect of his work, emphasizing this point as “by far.” He elaborated by explaining that other aspects of the job, especially those involving physical demands or independent living at his age, posed greater challenges.

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