By Barbara Anne Kirshner
The boys of summer are back! And with them the voice of the New York Yankees’ John Sterling, and the partner he’s referred to as his compadre for some 16 years now, Suzyn Waldman. For this Yankees fan, the start of the 2021 season, April 1st, featuring this pairing on Yankees radio, WFAN, can’t happen soon enough.
I grew up watching the Yankees with my mom, an avid Yankees fan. She knew all the players by name. During the late 1990’s into latter 2000, whenever Mariano Rivera came to the mound, Mom would say, “It’s all over now, the Sandman has arrived. It’s good night Irene.” And to Mom’s delight, more times than not, Rivera would close the other team out.
In 2007, my mom suffered a major stroke with smaller ones to follow. She was in and out of hospitals and physical therapy centers. I was with her every day driving from my home in Miller Place sometimes to Port Washington, then to Glen Cove, then to Amityville and for a while, she was home in Plainedge.
During those long trips each day, I listened to WFAN and the Yankees game. It was at that time when John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman became my special friends, always there to make the drive I had to take more comfortable. Mom passed away September 2009 and the last time the Yankees won the World Series was November 4, 2009. I always felt that she sent the Yankees blessings from Heaven and that’s why they won that year.
Though my daily drives ended in 2009, my connection to WFAN and those Yankee broadcasters remained intact. I enjoy the clever repartee between Sterling and Waldman that, combined with their ability to detail every pitch, every hit, every base run, allows the listener to see the action clearly in the mind’s eye.
Even at the times when I watch the game, I always turn down the volume on the television and turn up the volume on Sterling’s and Waldman’s play by play. Sorry, Michael Kay, but for me, no one compares to them. Sterling’s signature remarks add to the fun of the game. The amusing catchphrases Sterling has for each player combined with his final bellow for a Yankee victory of “BALLGAME OVER! THEEEEEEEE YANKEES WIN, THEEEEEEEE YANKEES WIN” and his calls for home runs of “It is high, it is far, it is gone!” adds an extra excitement to the game that I just can’t miss.
In August 2020, due to health reasons, Sterling had to step away from his broadcast duties for several games and, though Waldman was her usual wonderful self, there was something BIG missing. The only other time Sterling stepped away from broadcasting the Yankees games was in 2019 for four games. Before that he called 5060 consecutive Yankees games.
This year, Sterling has made it known that he is in fine health even at 82 years of age so hopefully we can look forward to an entire season with the twosome doing their thing for the Yankees. Happily, the season begins on time not like last year at the height of COVID when the baseball season didn’t start until July 23 and ended after 60 games on September 27.
During spring training 2021, Sterling had the opportunity to call the March 15 and 22 baseball games with his former partner, Michael Kay, on the YES Network. It was good to see and hear my favorite sportscaster, but I look forward to his pairing with Waldman.
Sterling’s compadre, Waldman, is multi-talented. She was a musical theatre actress who segued into sportscasting, not an easy transition for a woman to make. Her opposition is well-documented. But she has maintained her dignity and flourished in sportscasting despite everything. At the Yankees home opener on July 31, 2020, Waldman sang the Star Spangled Banner, receiving high praise for her rendition.
The boys of summer return April 1st and with them the voices of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, still stellar after all these years together. So off to the broadcast booth we go for those familiar voices of Yankees baseball.
Miller Place resident Barbara Anne Kirshner is a freelance journalist, playwright and author of “Madison Weatherbee —The Different Dachshund.”