John Sterling (sportscaster)
|New York Yankees|
|Born: July 4, 1938|
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
John Sterling (born John Sloss; July 4, 1938) is an American sportscaster, best known as the radio play-by-play announcer of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees. Sterling called 5,060 consecutive Yankees games, beginning in 1989, before taking an eight-day (four-game) break in July 2019. One of the longest-current broadcasters in the industry, Sterling has a distinctive play-calling style.
Sterling grew up on Manhattan's Upper East Side, in the East 80s. He was the son of advertising executive Carl H.T. and Gladys (Hodrov) 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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
New York Yankees (1989–present)
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 WFAN radio and its affiliates in the New York Yankees Radio Network. Since 2005, he has been paired with Suzyn Waldman; past announcing partners include: Jay Johnstone (1989–1990), Joe Angel (1991), Michael Kay (1992–2001), and Charley Steiner (2002–2004). In 2013, the Yankees announced a move to WFAN for ten years, and Sterling was retained. He is currently under contract through the 2021 season.
On September 20, 2018, as part of a promotion called “Rivalry in the Booth”, Sterling and Red Sox radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione switched places in the fourth inning. Sterling took his first days off since 1989 from July 4, 2019 until July 7, 2019.
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. He also hosts the introductions and recaps for Yankees Classics. 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. 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 Yankees' Old-Timers' Day. They have presided at the "Key to the City" ceremonies following Yankee World Series victories in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. 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. Sterling has emceed several Yankees pre-game ceremonies including the number retirements of Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera's number retirement in 2013 and Monument Park induction (2016), and the 20th anniversary of the Yankees' 1996 World Series victory in 2016. His long association with the Yankees has earned him the nickname "Pa Pinstripe" from New York Daily News writer Bob Raissman.
Sterling has several idiosyncrasies that mark his broadcasts as distinctive, very unusual, if also divisive. 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. 
Following the final out of a Yankees victory, Sterling calls "Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeee Yankees win!" 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. 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.
For back to back home runs, especially homers from opposite sides of the plate, Sterling references Harry Belafonte's "Zombie Jamboree" by saying "it's 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.
Sterling is heavily criticized in the media, with over 100 websites dedicated to denigrating his style and calls. Many baseball writers and websites have ranked him the worst or close to the worst of current baseball radio announcers. 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". Regularly criticized by Craig Carton and Phil Mushnick for his inaccurate calls, Mushnick has called him a "dishonest, self-promoting clown". He has also been heavily criticized for making the call of the game more about himself than the play on the field with over the top excitement for routine plays or insignificant events. Many of his critics further accuse him of blaming someone or something else for his confusion. He has also been consistently rated one of the most biased sportcasters in the industry.
The New York Times has described John Sterling as "frequently awful and laughable", often miscalling plays or not describing 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 almost complete accuracy for television or the opponents broadcast. The New York Daily News was also critical of Sterling's domineering of the booth, whereas most teams employ a two-man booth where duties are shared, Sterling does 100% of all play-by-play with his partner, Suzyn Waldman limited to ancillary commentary.
Sterling is a resident of Edgewater, New Jersey. He had previously resided in Teaneck, New Jersey. He was divorced in 2008 after 12 years of marriage to wife, Jennifer and is the father of four, including a set of triplets, born in 2000. In January 2015, fire destroyed the Avalon at Edgewater complex building. Sterling was one of hundreds of displaced residents.
In August 2020, Sterling was hospitalized for a blood infection.
- "Carl H. T. Sloss, Ad Director, 87". The New York Times. April 19, 1991. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- 1940 U.S. Census. Family of Carl and Gladys Sloss, Manhattan, Assembly District 15. Familysearch.org.
- "John Sterling and Neil Berg In Concert: Baseball and Broadway". TheaterMania. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
- "John Sterling". MLB (Major League Baseball) Official Site. Retrieved August 2, 2008.
- Wagner, James. "After 5,060 Straight Yankees Games, a Day Off for John Sterling". nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
- Pennington, Bill (October 1, 2011). "Voice of Yankees Draws High ratings and Many Critics". The New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- Pennington, Bill (October 1, 2011). "Voice of Yankees Draws High Ratings and Several Critics". The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- Canton, John (September 14, 2013). "Yankees radio broadcasts to air on WFAN in 2014". Awfulannouncing.com. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Rosenstein, Mike. "WFAN decides if John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman will call Yankees games in 2020". nj.com. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
- Bird, Hayden. "Red Sox fans will hear John Sterling's voice on WEEI for an inning during Yankees series". BostonGlobe.com. Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
- "THE 46th ANNUAL NEW YORK EMMY AWARDS – 2003 WINNERS". The Emmy Awards. Retrieved August 3, 2008.
- "Sterling on Sports". WCBS NewsRadio 880. August 3, 2008. Archived from the original on July 31, 2008. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
- Hotch, Bryan (August 2, 2008). "Old Timers gather at the Cathedral". Major League Baseball (MLB.com). Retrieved August 3, 2008.
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- "I Love a Parade: Yankees get ticker-tape treatment, City Hall rally". Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. January 30, 2000. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
- Raisman, Bob. "Retirement talk off limits for Suzyn Waldman, John Sterling". nydailynews.com. The New York Daily News. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
- "Years of calling Yankees games didn't prepare John Sterling to do play-by-play at the Kitten Bowl | For The Win". Ftw.usatoday.com. February 5, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Monagan, Matt. "John Sterling did play-by-play for a Nets game and couldn't help giving one of his patented calls". MLB.com. MLB Advanced Media, LLC. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
- LAPOINTE, John (October 24, 1998). "ON THE YANKEES; The Stadium's Grass Is Greener on the Radio". New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
- Mushnik, Phil (August 15, 2007). "BROADCAST BOOTH ANOTHER CALLING". New York Post. Archived from the original on August 21, 2007. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
- LAPOINTE, John (October 7, 2007). "Radio Choice". New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
- Chad, Norman (July 6, 2008). "The Couch Slouch: Yanks' new yard: The House That Ruthless Built". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
At the new Yankee Stadium, they no longer will play 'Theme from New York, New York' after games.
- MARTINEZ, Michael (May 27, 1991). "BASEBALL; Yanks Take Bus Home, But They're Flying High". New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
- Home Run Calls
- The Seven Types of John Sterling Home-Run Calls - The Sports Section
- "John Sterling's home run calls". Sports.newsday.com. August 8, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Pennington, Bill (October 1, 2011). "Voice of the Yankees draws high ratings and many critics". New York Times.
- "Broadcaster Rankings (Radio): #30 – #21 | FanGraphs Baseball". Fangraphs.com. May 15, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Nathaniel Uy (August 2, 2010). "The 20 Worst MLB TV and Radio Announcers | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights". Bleacher Report. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Too much Bronx bombast - Sports - ReviewJournal.com
- Mushnick, Phil (May 18, 2009). "Baseball Fans Deserve Better than Sterling". New York post.
- "The John Sterling conundrum - River Avenue Blues". Riveraveblues.com. April 30, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- "IT IS HIGH! IT IS FAR! IT IS... caught.: Jason Giambi and Dave Winfield can sleep well, knowing their positions on the All-Time Yankee HR list are secure". Johnsterling.blogspot.com. December 8, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Canton, John (September 18, 2013). "This could be John Sterling's worst call ever". Awfulannouncing.com. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Kyle Brown (February 24, 2012). "Major League Baseball's 20 Most Biased Talking Heads | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights". Bleacher Report. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- "John Sterling is woeful". Forums.nyyfans.com. April 12, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Sandomir, Richard (September 19, 2013). "Voice of Yanks Is Maddening and Memorable". New York Times. Archived from the original on April 11, 2014.
- Raissman, Bob (March 31, 2014). "Yankees radio personalities John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman should switch it up". New York Daily News.
- on YouTube
- Klapisch, Bob (August 2008). "Covering All Bases: Radio's John Sterling, Edgewater, calls the hits for Yankee games". 201. p. 40.
- Sullivan, Tara (September 17, 1998). "YANKS' AIR APPARENTS; STERLING, KAY A HIT BEYOND THEIR MIKES". The Record (Bergen County).
- Collier, Jamal (January 21, 2015). "Fire engulfs Sterling's apartment complex in New Jersey."[permanent dead link] MLB.com. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
- Raissman, Bob; Golgowski, Nina (January 21, 2015). "Multialarm fire engulfs Edgewater, N.J. apartment complex, leaving Yankees announcer John Sterling among those without a home." New York Daily News. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
- Marchand, Andrew. "Yankees voice John Sterling expects to return soon after blood infection scare". nypost.com. NYP Holdings, Inc. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
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