Longtime Yankee announcer John Sterling is honored during a pregame ceremony in recognition of his retirement before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

John Sterling, the radio voice of the New York Yankees for 36 years, said goodbye to the team and fans at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, days after announcing his retirement.

Sterling spoke to the crowd before Saturday’s afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx.

“In my mind, I had carved out a little bit of a speech, which we don’t need any more,” said Sterling after being introduced by longtime radio partner Suzyn Waldman. “Obviously I have to thank the Steinbrenner family. I have to thank Michael Kay, my partner for ten years. We had a really good partnership. And the last 20 years, with the greatest partner in the world, Suzyn Waldman. What I really wanna do is to thank you [the fans], and I’ll tell you why. I’ve been here at the Yankees 36 years, and in that time, person after person, group after group, have come to me with a kindness, respect, and love… and, how lucky can you be? For people to celebrate what you do for a living… The fans have been phenomenal to me over the past 36 years.”

David Cone, Bernie Williams, and Derek Jeter all appeared on the scoreboard with well-wishes for the longtime announcer, while Tino Martinez presented him with Yankees cufflinks.

The Yankees also presented him with a silver microphone, a jersey with the number 5,631 printed across the back, and a big-screen TV so he could continue to enjoy Yankees games at home.

Sterling joined TV announcer Michael Kay in the booth during the second inning and the two reminisced about working together and what the 85-year-old will do next. Kay also tried to find out if there was any chance Sterling might feel an itch to return to the booth. It sure sounds like this retirement is pretty ironclad.

“Do you think there’s gonna be a time…that you’ll say, gee I wish I was there to make that call?” asked Kay.

“No,” responded Sterling. “I’m exhausted. You know, Mel Stottlemyre would say to the pitcher in his last inning, ‘Empty the tank.’ Well, my tank is empty.”

“When you left the booth that day, after what was then your final game, did you know at that point ‘I’m not doing this again?'” asked Sterling.

“I was thinking about it. I knew I didn’t want to travel,” responded Sterling, who noted that he could have continued working just home games but even that was becoming a hassle.


Sterling expanded on his reasoning for calling it a career in an interview with the New York Post’s Steve Serby.

“Well going there, I’m gonna think, ‘Boy, I hope I don’t screw up on the field.’ And going home, there’ll be a tremendous feeling of … ahhh, I’ve done it,” Sterling told Serby about his feelings prior to Saturday. “And starting on Sunday, I won’t have to go anywhere anytime that I don’t want to. I don’t want to tell you what I’m gonna say because I ad-lib it. But basically, what I’m saying is something that you probably would say. Here I was, this little boy, this little street urchin Yankee fan rooting for the Yankees and taking the IRT up to the Stadium, and then, slightly more than mid-career, having the Yankee job fall in my lap! And then look how it turned out. Oh my God, can you be luckier than I am? I have to throw all my emotions away and handle my little speech and go from there.”

[NY Post, YES Network, AA on X]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.