John Sterling (sportscaster)

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John Sterling
John Sterling.jpg
John Sterling in 2010
Born John Sloss
(1938-07-04) July 4, 1938 (age 75)
Sports commentary career
Team(s) New York Yankees (YES Network and WFAN radio)
Genre(s) Play-by-play

John Sterling (born John Sloss1 on July 4, 19382) is an American sportscaster best known as the radio play-by-play announcer of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees. He has announced every Yankees game since 1989.34

Early life

Sterling grew up on Manhattan's Upper East Side, in the East 80s.5 He was the son of advertising executive Carl Sloss. According to the 1940 U.S. Census, John was one year old and living with the family in Manhattan when the census was taken on April 4.2 He briefly attended Moravian College, Boston University, and the Columbia University School of General Studies before leaving school to begin his career in radio at a small station in Wellsville, New York.6

Broadcasting career

Early career

Sterling began his broadcasting career in Baltimore, where he served as the play-by-play announcer for the then-Baltimore Bullets for the 1970–71 NBA season. He also did play-by-play for Morgan State University football, a role that he held from 1971 to 1978.

Sterling came to New York broadcasting as a talk show host with WMCA in 1971. He later served as the radio voice for the WHA's New York Raiders, the WFL's New York Stars, the NHL's New York Islanders (where he was paired with Bob Lawrence), and the ABA/NBA's New York/New Jersey Nets (where he was paired mainly with Mike DeTomasso). Sterling also did a stretch with the Yankees as pre-game host on WMCA and WINS radio, as well as co-host on cable segments with Mel Allen.4

From 1975 through 1980, Sterling announced Nets and Islanders games for WMCA, WVNJ, WOR-TV, and SportsChannel New York, continuing his WMCA talk program until 1978.4 After his initial stint in New York, Sterling spent nine years in Atlanta hosting a sports call-in show on WSB radio and covering the Braves (1982–1987) and Hawks (1981–1989) for Turner Sports.4

New York and the Yankees

In 1989, Sterling returned to New York to broadcast the games for the Yankees on WABC radio. He has been with the Yankees ever since, currently calling games on WCBS radio (which took over the Yankees radio rights from WABC in 2002) and its affiliates in the New York Yankees Radio Network. Since 2005, his co-host has been Suzyn Waldman; past announcing partners include: Jay Johnstone (1989–1990), Joe Angel (1991), Michael Kay (1992–2001), and Charley Steiner (2002–2004).4 In 2013, the Yankees announced a move to WFAN over the next ten years, and Sterling was retained.7

Sterling's association with the Yankees is not limited to announcing live games over the radio. He is also host of the YES Network's Yankeeography series, which produces biographies of New York Yankees. Among several nominations, Sterling has received two Emmy Awards for the series.8 In addition, Sterling has a nightly commentary feature on WCBS newscasts called "Sterling on Sports", in which he gives his take on a recent sporting event or sports news item.9 This commentary airs nightly during the 6:15 PM sports report.

Sterling and former broadcasting partner Michael Kay commonly work together representing the Yankees; they announce the annual Yankee's Old-Timers' Day,10 and preside at "Key to the City" ceremonies following Yankee World Series victories. The pair often serve as masters of ceremonies on and off the field for major Yankee events, including the 2000 ticker-tape parade held in the Yankees' honor after their World Series win.1112

Announcing mannerisms

John Sterling broadcasting a game.

Sterling has several idiosyncrasies that mark his broadcasts as distinctive, if also divisive.13 In addition to a colorful vocal personality, Sterling has distinguished himself for sometimes characterizing plays differently than they may appear and for his announcing errors, habits that spark high feelings in fans and lead to comparisons with announcers like Phil Rizzuto. 1415

Following the final out of a Yankees victory, Sterling calls "Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeee Yankees win!"413 The length of the word "the" is held longer after dramatic victories, as well as after victories resulting in championships (which Sterling also punctuates by saying the name of whichever series is over). It has been played over the public address system at Yankee Stadium after every Yankees victory for the past several seasons, right before Frank Sinatra's cover of "Theme from New York, New York" is played.16 The phrase evolved from Sterling's call of Mel Hall's game-winning three-run homer in the ninth inning on May 27, 1991, to give the Yankees a dramatic Memorial Day win over the Boston Red Sox.17

One of his signature radio remarks is his home run call "It is high, it is far, it is gone!"18 He devises a personalized catchphrase for every Yankee player.19 Sterling is known for giving each player a personalized home run call.20

For back to back home runs, especially homers from opposite sides of the plate, Sterling references Harry Belafonte's "Zombie Jamboree" by saying "its a back to back! ... and a belly to belly!" In addition, sometimes before a pitch he will say "theeeeeee pitch," lengthening the word the. If a batter swings and misses, Sterling will often say "cuuuuut on-and-missed," elongating the word cut, followed by on-n-miss pronounced as one quick word. After a strikeout swinging, he says "STRUCK HIM OUT SWINGING!", and for a strikeout looking he calls "STRIIIIKE THREE!", elongating the 'I' in strike.

In all cases when Sterling emphasizes the word "the," as is one of his signatures, he uses not the long ē ("thee") but the schwa ə ("thuh").

Criticism

Sterling is heavily criticized in the media, with over 100 websites dedicated to denigrating his style and calls.21 Many baseball writers and websites have ranked him the worst or close to the worst of current baseball radio announcers.222324 Much of the criticism stems from calling balls home runs that are not home runs, mixing up fair and foul balls, and his personalized home run calls, which some people view as "over-the-top" or "too much".25 Regularly criticized by Craig Carton and Phil Mushnick for his inaccurate calls.26 Phil Mushnick has called him a "dishonest, self-promoting clown"27 He has also been heavily criticized for making the call of the game more about himself than the play on the field28 with over the top excitement for routine plays or insignificant events.29 To make matters worse, many of his critics further accost him in that when he makes a bad call, he routinely blames someone or something else for his confusion.30 He has also been consistently rated one of the most biased sportcasters in the industry3132

The New York Times has described John Sterling as "frequently awful and laughable", often miscalling plays or not decribing a play accurately - blaming confusion on the field or other reasons. This is in despite of the fact that other announcers called the same play with complete accuracy for television or the opponents broadcast.33

Jim Norton of The Opie and Anthony Show routinely mocks Sterling's player nicknames and his emphasis on the "mmm" sound before saying "mmm-it is high, mmm-it is far. ..."34

Personal

Sterling is a resident of Edgewater, New Jersey.35 He had previously resided in Teaneck, New Jersey.36 He was divorced in 2008 after 12 years of marriage to wife, Jennifer5 and is the father of four, including a set of triplets, born in 2000.4

Disputed birth year

Although many sources, including Google37 and Deadspin.com38 claim Sterling to be born in 1948, there are sources (including the 1940 U.S. Census) that would point to his age being off by as many as ten years, meaning he was born in 1938 instead of 1948.38

References

  1. ^ "Carl H. T. Sloss, Ad Director, 87". The New York Times. 19 April 1991. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  2. ^ a b 1940 U.S. Census. Family of Carl and Gladys Sloss, Manhattan, Assembly Distrcict 15. Familysearch.org.
  3. ^ "John Sterling and Neil Berg In Concert: Baseball and Broadway". TheaterMania. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "John Sterling". MLB (Major League Baseball) Official Site. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  5. ^ a b Pennington, Bill (1 October 2011). "Voice of Yankees Draws High ratings and Many Critics". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Pennington, Bill (1 October 2011). "Voice of Yankees Draws High Ratings and Several Critics". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 October 2011. 
  7. ^ http://www.awfulannouncing.com/2014/september/yankees-radio-broadcasts-to-air-on-wfan-in-2014.html
  8. ^ "THE 46th ANNUAL NEW YORK EMMY AWARDS – 2003 WINNERS". The Emmy Awards. Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  9. ^ "Sterling on Sports". WCBS NewsRadio 880. 08/03/08. Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  10. ^ Hotch, Bryan (August 2, 2008). "Old Timers gather at the Cathedral". Major League Baseball (MLB.com). Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  11. ^ Giuliani, Rudolph W. (October 29, 1999). "World Champion Yankees Celebration Speech". New York City: Government of. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  12. ^ "I Love a Parade: Yankees get ticker-tape treatment, City Hall rally". Sports Illustrated (Associated Press). January 30, 2000. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  13. ^ a b LAPOINTE, John (October 24, 1998). "ON THE YANKEES; The Stadium's Grass Is Greener on the Radio". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  14. ^ Mushnik, Phil (August 15, 2007). "BROADCAST BOOTH ANOTHER CALLING". New York Post. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  15. ^ LAPOINTE, John (October 7, 2007). "Radio Choice". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  16. ^ Chad, Norman (July 6, 2008). "The Couch Slouch: Yanks' new yard: The House That Ruthless Built". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  17. ^ MARTINEZ, Michael (May 27, 1991). "BASEBALL; Yanks Take Bus Home, But They're Flying High". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  18. ^ Home Run Calls
  19. ^ The Seven Types of John Sterling Home-Run Calls - The Sports Section
  20. ^ http://sports.newsday.com/long-island/voteGallery/?pid=44
  21. ^ Pennington, Bill (October 1, 2011). "Voice of the Yankees draws high ratings and many critics". New York Times. 
  22. ^ http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/broadcaster-rankings-radio-30-21/
  23. ^ http://bleacherreport.com/articles/428726-the-20-worst-mlb-announcers-tv-and-radio/page/21
  24. ^ http://voices.yahoo.com/john-sterling-worst-announcer-baseball-history-1507197.html
  25. ^ Too much Bronx bombast - Sports - ReviewJournal.com
  26. ^ Mushnick, Phil (May 18, 2009). "Baseball Fans Deserve Better than Sterling". New York post. 
  27. ^ Pennington, Bill (October 1, 2011). "Voice of the Yankees draws high ratings and many critics". New York Post (New York Times). 
  28. ^ http://riveraveblues.com/2010/04/the-john-sterling-conundrum-27568/
  29. ^ http://johnsterling.blogspot.com/2013/12/jason-giambi-and-dave-winfield-can.html
  30. ^ http://www.awfulannouncing.com/2013/september/this-could-be-john-sterling-s-worst-call-ever.html
  31. ^ http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1078410-major-league-baseballs-20-biggest-talking-head-homers/page/20
  32. ^ http://forums.nyyfans.com/showthread.php/131921-John-Sterling-is-woeful/page2
  33. ^ Sandomir, Richard (September 19, 2013). "Voice of Yanks Is Maddening and Memorable". New York Times. 
  34. ^ Jim Norton Hates John Sterling (Sept. 1, 2005) - Explicit Language
  35. ^ Klapisch, Bob (August 2008). "Covering All Bases: Radio's John Sterling, Edgewater, calls the hits for Yankee games" 201. p. 40. 
  36. ^ Sullivan, Tara (September 17, 1998). "YANKS' AIR APPARENTS; STERLING, KAY A HIT BEYOND THEIR MIKES". The Record (Bergen County). 
  37. ^ http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=6&oq=j&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4TSNP_enUS463US464&q=john+sterling+birthdate&gs_upl=0l0l0l4169lllllllllll0&aqi=g4s3&pbx=1
  38. ^ a b http://deadspin.com/5803638/yankees-broadcaster-john-sterling-is-down-with-the-black-panthers

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