The first thing that blows me away when it comes to John Sterling’s incredible career is his remarkable streak of calling every Yankees game for over 30 years. The man called 5,060 straight games. Every single inning. He likes to add that part. Regardless of what you think about his style or performance, that is a phenomenal accomplishment. It might never be duplicated. John has also mentioned that he called Braves and Hawks games for years in Atlanta. More than 200 combined each year, although he could not announce every single game for both with overlapping seasons. Since Suzyn Waldman became his partner in 2005, John has handled the play-by-play for every inning he was there.
Sterling has called the action in numerous sports for various teams. He has announced Nets games (including one last year), and even called hockey 40 years ago. John turned 81 this month. He was born on July 4, 1938. Same birthday as George Steinbrenner. John was born 8 years after George. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons they got along so well. Imagine spending your 60s and 70s doing all that travel for work. Sterling has been so durable and reliable. John said that people told him he needed to take days off. Otherwise, his streak would probably still be growing.
Many people are familiar with his calls in recent years. I’m one of the people who has complained that he does not accurately describe the action when I’m driving or home listening to the radio. However, I remember how much his calls were anticipated when I was a teenager. Some of you probably don’t know what a transistor radio is. Perhaps you have heard of a stereo or Walkman. Anyway, I would often turn on Sterling and listen to his calls. They were usually much more exciting than the local or national television call.
Chris Carrino and Ryan Ruocco were solid on WFAN filling in for Sterling. I don’t know if either will replace him permanently when the time comes, and I’m not sure if Sterling will step away anytime soon. My guess is that John will not if he has anything to say about it. Carrino is from Yonkers. I met him about 20 years ago in New Jersey when I interviewed for a Nets internship. Chris would probably be my early choice. I think the time off has worked. John sounds stronger. That was the idea.
Meanwhile, let’s give credit to Suzyn as well. She has been nominated for the Radio Hall of Fame. John might also have some special recognition in his future. They have been quite a pair. Although I find the impressions of Sour Shoes entertaining (plus Craig Carton over the years), both John and Suzyn have done terrific work for decades. Not just as voices calling Yankees baseball. I’m sure people will say nice things about them when they stop working. Here is a tip of the cap while they are still going strong.