The Loss of Bob Sheppard
We’ve lost an amazing man. He died just short of one hundred years old, but he will be remembered for his skill at doing a simple job, but he did it exceptionally well. His fame came from his job as the public address announcer for the New York Yankees. He did that job for more than 50 years. It wasn’t a difficult job, but he was a professional and he knew what he was doing. Apparently doing your job and doing it well and being consistent was important to him.
With his passing comes a great deal of coverage where a wide variety of well known sports legends were asked to comment on Mr. Sheppard. No one wants to speak ill of the dead, but when you only have positive and sincere things to say you let loose. Every comment we heard about Mr. Sheppard was not only positive, but genuine. A variety of sports legends spoke about how they were awed and thrilled to hear their name announced by a public address announcer. A public address announcer is something in the background. A public address announcer is something from years gone by. With all of the modern score boards and data screens in a sports arena or stadium today, a human voice to announce a name isn’t really unnecessary, but we all look for it when Mr. Sheppard was the announcer.
I heard the term “simple elegance” more than once, but I also heard a lot about his unpretentious demeanor, his modesty, his common man approach to his job. He thought of himself as a second rate crooner. What he was, was a public address announcer who was proud of his ability to do his job and do it well. Many regarded him as the best of what he did. He was regarded by his peers and the standard for the job he held.
When we lose important people from our lives we have to know what they have to teach us. He was very good at his job because he showed up every day on time and did his job as well as he could do it. I didn’t see it said anywhere, and I never knew the man to speak to him, but I’m sure he loved his job. I’m sure he was confident in himself and knew he could do the job as well as it could be done. Dependability, consistency and performance are some of the lessons we can learn from this dedicated professional.
One of the things I read about Mr. Sheppard was his preference to be remembered for his work as an instructor at St. John’s University. His fame came from Yankee Stadium, and I’m sure he loved working there, but he got a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction from his work as a teacher. If we weren’t already predisposed to be fond of him because of his association with the New York Yankees, how could we not be fond of him for his willingness and his love for working with young people and his skill at sharing his ability and experience with them. How many young lives did he touch and improve because he was a teacher.
We lost an important person. Every day he cared about doing his job well. We can all show him the tribute that he deserves by learning from him. Show up on time, do your job as well as you can do it and share your skills with someone who wants to learn. His opinion of himself as a modest unassuming professional who took pride in his job only served to reinforce his professional approach to his job. He will be missed, but he will also be remembered for his simple elegance.
In my opinion that’s not a bad way to go.