Special gifts from Giants, Nestor Cortes mark John Sterling’s 85th birthday

John Sterling tuns 85 as he prepares for the Yankees vs. Orioles game on July 4, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.
John Allen
Wednesday July 5, 2023

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Tuesday was the 85th birthday of the Yankees’ famed radio commentator John Sterling. While the Yankees honored him for that, the sportscaster received a unique gift — a football helmet — from the San Francisco Giants. Starter Nestor Cortes added another memorable gift to this special occasion.

During a special event commemorating the birthday on Tuesday, the WFAN Yankees play-by-play broadcaster received a football helmet as a gift from the Giants. This gesture came in response to an incident a month ago when John Sterling was struck by a foul ball in the face during a broadcast in June.

Michael Kay, the YES broadcaster, mentioned that the football helmet was sent to John Sterling by none other than co-owner John Mara.

It seems that the Giants were determined to protect John Sterling from any potential harm caused by another foul ball.

Nester Cortes’ memorable gift for John Sterling

According to a tweet by Michael Kay, Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes had shirts made to honor John Sterling’s resilience, in addition to the football helmet gift.

Yankees players received shirts featuring a depiction of a person wearing a suit and holding a microphone, with two bandages labeled “Ow!” placed on their faces.

During the ninth inning of the June 10 game between the Yankees and the Red Sox, a foul ball from Justin Turner struck Yankees closer Clay Holmes‘ pitch, ricocheted off the desk, and unintentionally struck John Sterling in the face.

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

“Swung on, a popped foul, back here,” John Sterling said on the broadcast. “Ow! Ow! Ow! It really hit me. I didn’t know it was coming back that far.”

Despite being hit by the foul ball, John Sterling remained resilient and continued his play-by-play commentary without skipping a beat. He proceeded to call the final out of the Yankees’ win and later described the incident as a minor “glancing blow” during a postgame interview.

Almost four weeks later, he joined in a birthday celebration before the Yankees’ game against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. The festivities took place outside the WFAN booth, where he typically broadcasts.

He was welcomed with a rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song, performed by a group that included Michael Kay and Suzyn Waldman, his broadcast partners at WFAN. A cake adorned with the message “Happy Birthday John” and a microphone design was also presented to him, with the words scripted on the top layer.

On his birthday, John Sterling showcased his signature home run call when Yankee’s second baseman Gleyber Torres sent a ball soaring over the left-field fence in the opening inning, prompting John Sterling to exclaim “Gleyber Day” as the Yankees surged ahead with a 2-0 lead.

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