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Bob Sheppard Led Jeter To The Plate One Last Time

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Last night, 40-year-old Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter went out in storybook style in his last game at home.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASEBALL GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Base hit to right field.

BLOCK: A walk-off hit at the bottom of the ninth. Well, that last Jeter home game sent me digging through my own audio archives to find an interview I recorded on the field at Yankee Stadium way back in 1996.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

BLOCK: Tell me on tape your name and what you play.

DEREK JETER: Derek Jeter, shortstop.

BLOCK: You're how old?

JETER: 22.

BLOCK: 22.

Derek Jeter was in his first full season with the Yankees, not yet a household name. I was working on a story about the legendary Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard whose distinctive voice was a signature of the Yankees, announcing the players both as they walked to the plate and in the starting lineup.

(SOUNDBITE OF YANKEES GAME)

BOB SHEPPARD: At shortstop, number two. Derek Jeter, number two.

JETER: He's got kind of a unique voice. I mean, (imitating Sheppard) Jeter, number two. I like it. I think he's probably the best announcer in the league.

BLOCK: So I asked then 22-year-old Derek Jeter...

BLOCK: What did that feel like when you hear that ringing out through Yankee Stadium?

JETER: It was kind of weird. 'Cause I mean, it's like, is he saying my name? And then how he said it, like I said, (imitating Sheppard) Jeter. I mean, it's - I like it. I like it a lot.

BLOCK: In fact, Derek Jeter liked that voice so much and was so loyal to tradition, that he had Bob Sheppard record his introduction. And even after Sheppard retired, that was the voice you'd hear as Jeter walked to the plate in Yankee Stadium. Even after Bob Sheppard died in 2010 at age 99, thanks to Derek Jeter, his voice lived on. As Jeter said this week...

JETER: That's the only voice I had heard growing up. And that's the only voice I wanted to hear when I was announced at home. And he's as important as any player that's been here. He's part of the experience, you know. Part of the experience of Yankee Stadium is Bob Sheppard's voice.

BLOCK: So when Jeter came to the plate last night - bottom of the ninth, score tied at five, runner on second, game on the line, how fitting that this voice was his soundtrack?

(SOUNDBITE OF YANKEES GAME)

SHEPPARD: Now coming for the Yankees, number two, Derek Jeter, number two.

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.