John Sterling’s HR call always ‘outsmarts’ Judge, makes Volpe feel ‘super special’

Aaron Judge and Anthony Volpe and Yankees' long-time voice John Sterling.
John Allen
Tuesday April 16, 2024

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For generations of Yankees players, a home run wasn’t just a point on the scoreboard, it was an invitation to John Sterling‘s creative stage. The iconic radio broadcaster’s retirement announcement on Monday left a void beyond the press release, sparking a wave of nostalgia among players.

Aaron Judge, a frequent beneficiary of John Sterling’s booming home run pronouncements, expressed his curiosity as to how he would introduce a new player’s first Yankee Stadium homer.

“What’s John going to come up with this time?” he said. “What’s he going to use? Will he go last name, first name, how’s he going to do this? He always outsmarts us and comes up with something great that the fans love, we love, as players, listening to it.”

With John Sterling’s departure, rookies stepping up to the plate won’t experience the same thrill Judge and Anthony Volpe did when they delivered their first home runs as Yankees.

Judge went beyond the entertainment value John Sterling provided, acknowledging him as a genuine member of the Yankees family. His absence, Judge admitted, would leave a noticeable gap.

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees in action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on May 3.
Jim McIsaac

The slugger, known for his own towering home runs, fondly reminisced about John Sterling’s signature call for his blasts: “It’s a Judge-ian blast! All rise, here comes the Judge!”

But the most impactful moment, Judge confessed, went beyond the theatrics. When asked about his favorite John Sterling memory, Judge revealed the cherished memory of hearing his first home run call from the legendary announcer.

“Growing up, I listened to all these old Yankee games and broadcasts,” Judge said, emphasizing the weight of the moment. Hearing his own name immortalized in John Sterling’s iconic voice transcended the game itself.

Adding a personal touch, Judge shared that his father was present for his first home run. Together, they later went online, searching for and “replaying it over and over again” on YouTube. John Sterling’s calls, Judge highlighted, transcended the field, leaving a lasting impact on players and their families.

“He was so witty, smart,” Judge said. “John’s a big part of this family and we’re going to miss him.”

John Sterling’s calls: A special touch for Yankee rookies

Yankees' Anthony hits at Yankee Stadium during the game against Toronto on April 7, 2024.

For Anthony Volpe, a fellow New Yorker like John Sterling, the legendary announcer’s retirement announcement held even more weight. As a Yankee rookie, Volpe experienced the thrill of hearing his first home run immortalized in his one-of-a-kind style.

John Sterling, known for incorporating different languages into his calls, delivered a unique experience for Volpe. “Anthony Volpe! A spettacolo oggi! Ohhh, the fox socks one to left,” boomed Sterling’s voice, referencing Volpe’s last name, which translates to “fox” in Italian, and adding the Italian phrase “spettacolo oggi” roughly meaning “putting on a show today.”

This personalized call left Volpe awestruck.

“It was definitely special,” Volpe acknowledged. “Super special. … Definitely very surreal. He’s iconic.”

But the magic of John Sterling’s calls extended beyond the players themselves. Volpe’s family, unable to attend every game, faithfully tuned in to hear his distinctive voice paint a picture of the action on the radio.

John Sterling’s home run pronouncements became legendary, each one building upon his signature “It is high! It is far! It is gone!” that set the stage for the grand finale.

Manager Aaron Boone acknowledged that John Sterling’s creativity sometimes left them scratching their heads, unsure of the inspiration behind his latest call. However, Boone emphasized that his voice and unique style were a source of excitement for everyone involved. He highlighted how the players themselves valued John Sterling’s distinctive approach to broadcasting, eagerly anticipating hearing their names booming through the airwaves after a home run.

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