It is early Sunday, and John Sterling, radio broadcaster for the New York Yankees, is sitting tensely at the desk inside of his office at the new Yankee Stadium. Elbows on the table, he stares down onto a legal pad sitting before him, massaging his temples as if to stimulate his creative juices.
“I go through this pretty much almost every spring, trying to familiarize myself with the team’s new faces. Getting ready for the Interleague games, though, is a little different. I take this very seriously,” said the 60-year old resident of Edgewater, New Jersey.
Sterling, of course, is talking about his infamous, oft-ridiculed practice of nicknaming Yankee players and using those names for over the top home run calls. With Interleague play set to start, Sterling slightly shifts focus from his normal routine.
“We’ve got some solid bats in our rotation. It would not shock me at all to see future Hall of Famer Joba Chamberlain take one deep at a National League park. In fact, I’m expecting it, so I’ve got to prepare accordingly,” Sterling states.
Some of Sterling’s more notable home run calls include “Positively Damonic!” for outfielder Johnny Damon and “The Sayonara Kid does it again!” for DH Hideki Matsui, disregarding all cultural sensitivity as well as the correctness of using “kid” to refer to a 35-year old veteran.
“Everybody WANG CHUNG tonight!” Sterling shouts in rehearsal inside the office. He smirks slightly before committing the thought to paper. “CC ya later!” follows shortly.
“Suzie (Suzyn Waldman, the greatest color commentator ever and Sterling’s partner) personally thought ‘Brosius the Ferocious’ was my coupe de grace. I’m just excited thinking about her reaction when I break out my ‘What a Job-a by Chamberlain!’ call,” muses Sterling. “I’m confident that THAT will be amongst the most dramatic things in all of her life!”
When asked what he gets out of the sleepless nights coming up with universally-reviled, contrived calls that embarras all who listen to him, Sterling pauses to think. He glances to a framed photo of a younger George Steinbrenner. In the photo, Steinbrenner is glancing into the distance with half-smile, with Sterling’s chin, nose, left ear and eye clearly visible behind Steinbrenner’s outstretch arm. “George threatened to cut off my health insurace coverage if I didn’t. I only turn 61 this year but my senility has been getting worse over the last 12 years or so. Doctors say it’s due to work-related stress, but what do they know? Just prescribe me the meds and let me go back to work.”
Walking away from the windowless office tucked away in the recesses of the stadium, one hears an echoing “A-Jack from A.J.!…” trail off, followed by a faint sobbing sound.
(As seen on OhMurph.com)