John Sterling has been calling New York Yankees games since Don Mattingly and Rickey Henderson were wearing pinstripes, but his streak of radio broadcasts will end after three decades this week in Tampa, as reported by the New York Post.
A native of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Sterling will be in the booth for this week’s Subway Series against the New York Mets. But as Andrew Marchand reported, he will be replaced by YES/ESPN’s Ryan Ruocco when the Yanks begin their series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, July 4, which just happens to be Sterling’s 81st birthday.
Sterling indicated to the Post that his absence — the first since taking two games off in 1989 following the death of his sister — is the result of an illness.
“For the moment, I’m a little under the weather,” he said. “I’ve put in the time. I want to feel better, and they think this is the time for me to do it — and I agree.”
Sterling has gone 30 years as a pillar of the franchise and, since 2004, has racked up more play-by-play calls than anyone in sports alongside longtime broadcasting partner Suzyn Wadlman.
WFAN, which has Sterling under contract through 2019 and has long broadcast Yankees games, apparently encouraged the longtime radio man to “preserve his health during the long season,” Marchand said.
That included granting Sterling a four-game break during the team’s trip to Tampa, which also precedes the MLB All-Star Break.