James Hall has probably greeted you more times than you’ll ever know. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Yankee Stadium. Tonight’s game . . . ”
For years, the Floral Park resident was Bob Sheppard’s backup announcer at New York Yankees and New York Giants games, but fans rarely knew when it was Hall, and not Sheppard, addressing them.
“Often enough, people would not know Jim was replacing Bob, although Bob’s voice was certainly distinct,” Yankees Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost said of Hall, who died June 12 at 84. “There was a similarity, but not an imitation.”
Sheppard, the legendary announcer who died in 2010, was a mentor to Hall, a fellow faculty member in the St. John’s University Speech Department.
Sheppard first brought Hall to Yankee Stadium in 1963 to show him how the job worked, Hall’s daughter, Trisha Tuohy, of Levittown, said. While learning from Sheppard, Hall met his favorite player, Mickey Mantle, and then he was hooked, she said.
Hall styled himself after Sheppard, bringing grace to the microphone with distinct pronunciations, said Don Sperling, Vice President and Executive Producer of Giants Entertainment.
“He was never a guy looking for attention,” Sperling added. “He just had so much respect for the game, respect for the team, respect for his mentor, Bob Sheppard. That’s Jim Hall right in a nutshell.”
Like Sheppard, Hall remained objective, said his son, Jim Hall.
“He always felt his role as the public address announcer was to inform the fans, but not to root for the teams,” said Hall, of Port Jefferson Station. “He always felt that his job was to be impartial in his announcements,” he added, noting his allegiance to the football Giants, “but he bled Giant blue.”
Born on May 30, 1933 in Manhattan, Hall graduated from St. John’s Prep in 1951 and St. John’s University in 1955 after winning two consecutive national Catholic colleges and universities debate titles. He took his love of speech and imparted it to the students he taught and coached on the debate team throughout the years.
“He provided students with scholarships, and he loved working with the students. He never cared about how many trophies they won; he cared about how hard they worked,” Jim Hall said.
“He was my hero.”
Hall, who was chairman of the St. John’s Speech Department for 20 years, took over for Sheppard at Yankee Stadium in 2007 and brought a similar style to the public address system speakers through the end of 2008. He served as the full-time Giants announcer from 2006-15, and was the live voice heard during the closing of Yankee Stadium in 2008 and for the Giants’s last game at Giants Stadium in 2009.
The Giants presented him with a Super Bowl ring after they defeated the Patriots in the 2007 season and honored him during the last regular-season home game in 2016 for his role in the organization that dated back to 1977.
“After he retired, it was a lifetime pass here,” Sperling said. “He’s a man who you want to have around because he’s part of the tradition. He’s a part of the fabric of the New York Football Giants.”
Hall is survived by Patricia, his wife of 61 years, children, Jim, Trisha, Diane Kaiser of Buffalo, Lois Saltarella of Floral Park, 14 grandchildren and a great grandchild.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. June 16 at the Church of Saint Anne in Garden City at 10 a.m. on Friday with burial at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.