Greetings, fans! John Sterling here, voice of the Yankees! If there’s one question I get asked more than any other, it’s “Why are you still alive?” After that, the question I get asked the most is, “How do you come up with your famous personalized home run calls?” Often followed by, “What possessed you to come up with these home run calls?” and “Who lets you come up with these home run calls?”
Each home run call I develop takes days, sometimes even weeks of trial and error. When the Yankees acquire a new player, I sit down with my little yellow notepad and come up with a few “punny” riffs on his name. I then stand in front of my full-length wardrobe mirror and bellow them at the top of my lungs, as I twitter and shake like Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias (still one of my faves!).
Then, if the downstairs neighbors haven’t called the cops again, I judge the way they sound on my own Sterling Scale, with 1 Sterling being poor and 32 Sterlings being just grand! If I have a friend over for dinner, I’ll seek feedback from him as well. I know I’ve hit the mark if he says he’s not hungry anymore or turns green and runs to the bathroom.
I don’t take this process lightly. After all, I am the voice of the Yankees, the most celebrated franchise in all of American sports. I understand that my choices should reflect the history, tradition, and mystique of this team. Of course, not everything can rise to the majestic heights of ROBBIE CANO, DONTCHA KNOW! or A THRILLA! BY GODZILLA!, but striving to achieve such grandeur remains my goal.
The most important factor when choosing my home run calls: Will it allow Suzyn Waldman any time to speak? If the answer is yes, it’s back to the drawing board.
Of course, not every idea makes the cut. Here’s a list of a few proposed home run calls for Yankee greats, past and present, that were not up to my usual, exacting standards:
Chuck Knoblauch: IT’S ANOTHER KNOB-POLISHER!
Jason Giambi: GO TO THE MATTRESSES! THAT’S A VICIOUS HIT BY THE GIAMBI-NO CRIME FAMILY!
Jorge Posada: HEY THERE, GEORGIE BOY, SWINGING AT THE PLATE SO FANCY FREE!
Bernie Williams: THAT BALL’S BEEN BERN-ED BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION! ANOTHER SKIN GRAFT-TACULAR HOMER FOR WILLIAMS!
Paul O’Neill: EVERY TIME I SEE YOU HOMERING I GET DOWN ON MY O’NEILL’S AND PRAY!
Chad Curtis: HE HIT THE BALL INTO THE STANDS WITH HIS BAT!
Brett Gardner: THE CONSTANT GARDNER! STARRING RALPH FIENNES AND RACHEL WEISZ WHICH I HAVE NOT YET SEEN BUT IS IN MY NETFLIX QUEUE!
Curtis Granderson: The entire original soundtrack to the 1953 musical Kismet
I’ve been blessed to call so many great moments in Yankee history. But if I have one more wish, it’s to record an album of my home run calls with a full orchestra. Nelson Riddle will have to arrange, of course.
What would my own home run call be? I’m glad you asked. I think it would go something like this.
Sterling steps up to the plate, wearing his custom-made wool pinstripe Botany 500 suit. Two men on, two out, we’re in the bottom of the ninth, and the Yankees trail by two. Theeeee pitch is BELTED TO DEEP LEFT-CENTER FIELD! THAT BALL IS HIGH! MMM-IT IS FAR! MMM-IT IS GONE! STERLING POUNDS ONE! THE JOHN BACKS UP–A HOMER, THAT IS! A STERLING SILVER PERFORMANCE! JOHN JACOB JINGLEHEIMER SCHMIDT, HIS NAME IS MY NAME TOO! STER-LING UP SOME TROUBLE! JOHN JOHN, THE PIPER’S SON, HIT A HOMER AND AWAY HE RUN! YOU’RE SOME KIND OF MONSTER-LING! MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE AND JOHN, BLESS THIS HOMER WE JUST WON ON!
Or something equally as quiet and dignified.