Olden enjoys p.a. job but wanted Sheppard back, too

New York Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard New York Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard acknowledges the cheers of the fans at Yankee Stadium. (May 7, 2009) Photo Credit: AP

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Paul Olden had been speaking regularly with Bob Sheppard for months. So no, he was not surprised when the Yankees' long-time public address announcer said this week he does not expect to return.

But the news had added meaning for Olden, because as Sheppard's provisional successor, he now can be officially considered the new man on the job.

Not that he was rooting for that. "When I accepted the position," Olden said, "it was always with the knowledge that if he was able to recover and wanted to come back . . . I would gladly give the microphone to him.''

He knew the "odds of it happening were low" but added, "I wanted to see it, too.''

Olden, 55, said he has been warmly welcomed by fans, even those who miss Sheppard, 99. It probably helped that like Sheppard in 1951, he presided over a world championship in his first year.

"They don't really connect to me when they see me unless I say something," he said. "I did the Yankees' fantasy camp last week in Tampa and a lot of the campers went out of their way to acknowledge me and congratulate me on the job I did this season. I think generally I've been accepted pretty well. It helped that I was kind of a known quantity coming in.''

Still, many expected the job to go to Jim Hall, Sheppard's long-time backup, who filled in in 2008 and who sounds much like Sheppard. "I try to stay out of the loop in terms of stuff behind the scenes," Olden said of being chosen over Hall. "I try not to take anything for granted, but I feel confident that the Yankees are happy with my work. I certainly love the job.''

Does it bother him that Sheppard's recorded voice introduces Derek Jeter? To the contrary. He said he stretches his legs, gets a drink or takes a rest-room break after introducing the No. 9 hitter and before the No. 2 hitter comes up.

The strategy backfired one night when Melky Cabrera and Jeter each made an out on the first pitch. Said Olden, "I had to come running down the hallway to introduce Johnny Damon."

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