NEW YORK -- Bob Sheppard's voice will be at Yankee Stadium after all for Monday's season opener, the final Opening Day in the ballpark's history -- although he will be heard for just one batter.
Sheppard, the Yankees' public address announcer since 1951, will not be able to attend the game as he recovers from health issues that have limited his workload. But shortstop Derek Jeter plans to have Sheppard introduce him for his at-bats, the first of which will come in the bottom of the first inning against the Blue Jays' Roy Halladay. Jeter has had Sheppard's introduction recorded on tape.
"It's unfortunate, because one of the first things I looked forward to when I was called up was coming to Yankee Stadium and hearing him say my name," Jeter said on Monday. "I had Bob Sheppard record introducing me. I'll always come to the plate with Bob Sheppard."
Dubbed "The Voice of Yankee Stadium," Sheppard missed last year's American League Division Series in October due to a bronchial infection, as well as selected games leading up to the postseason. During his absence, Sheppard's longtime backup, Jim Hall, will fill in, except for Jeter's at-bats, of course.
"We hope to have [Sheppard] back by the month of June," Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said.
Sheppard has kept his actual date of birth a mystery, but he is believed to be in his late 90s. As synonymous with Yankee Stadium as Monument Park, the 2008 campaign marks Sheppard's 58th anniversary as the Yankees' public address announcer.
"Yankee Stadium is Bob Sheppard," catcher Jorge Posada said.
Sheppard began his tenure with the club on April 17, 1951, the only instance in which Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle shared an Opening Day outfield.
He has worked approximately 4,500 baseball games during his career, including 121 consecutive postseason contests (1951 through 2006) and 62 games in 22 World Series. Sheppard was also the voice of football's New York Giants for 50 seasons until his retirement after the 2005 season.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.