42° Good Evening
42° Good Evening
SportsColumnistsNeil Best

Suzyn Waldman and Buck Showalter are long-standing friends

Suzyn Waldman, Yankees radio broadcaster, stands above the

Suzyn Waldman, Yankees radio broadcaster, stands above the field at Yankee Stadium prior to calling a playoff game on Oct. 10, 2012. Photo Credit: David Pokress

Suzyn Waldman and Buck Showalter have known each other since tonight's Yankees starter, Phil Hughes, was in diapers, forging a friendship that has remained close through Showalter's travels around the major leagues.

So even after 25 years covering the Yankees -- since 2005 as a part of their radio team -- Game 3 of the ALDS Wednesday night had special resonance for Waldman.

"For him, this is an amazing comeback,'' she said before Showalter led the Orioles in his first postseason game at Yankee Stadium as an opposing manager.

"I know it's in a different building across the street, but he spent the better part of 20 years in a Yankees uniform, and I think a lot of people forget: There's no '90s, none of Joe Torre and that dynasty, without Buck Showalter and Stick Michael, who brought a certain kind of player here.''

Say what you want about Waldman -- everyone else does about one half of the Yankees' perpetual lightning rod of a radio team -- but give her this: She offers the kind of institutional memory that is essential to a local radio team. She has covered the team since 1987, the same year Showalter began managing the Yankees' Fort Lauderdale affiliate.

By 1990, he was on the big-league staff, serving as the Yankees' "eye in the sky'' and sitting beside Waldman in the press box. Soon, he and Michael were transforming the Yankees, culminating in their return to the playoffs in 1995.

Waldman isn't the only longtime Yankees voice who is close to Showalter. YES play-by-play man Michael Kay has known him since '87. And John Sterling joined the Yankees' radio booth in 1989.

Showalter was gone after losing the '95 ALDS to the Mariners, but Waldman kept in touch through his stops in Arizona, Texas and Baltimore, striking up a friendship with his wife, Angela.

Waldman knows her role in this series: primarily speaking to and for Yankees fans. But having Showalter in the opposing dugout adds another emotional layer.

After Showalter's pregame news conference, he and Waldman took the long walk to the visiting clubhouse together, Showalter regaling her with tales of the Orioles' all-night train and bus trip to New York after Game 2.

Waldman said she cherishes her role as an ongoing witness to recent Yankees history.

"I love it, because I think everything is so now,'' she said. "What did you do now? But everything is connected. We're in the here and now and we're in a different world now. But the beauty of baseball is it's all connected.''

Just how long will Sterling and Waldman remain as the Yankees' radio team?

CBS Radio announced in August it had extended its deal with the Yankees through 2013, and that Sterling and Waldman are expected back next season. Beyond that, nothing is certain for the pair.

"Well, I'm not going anywhere,'' Sterling said. "I'll be doing this for a long time.

"In fact, Hawk Harrelson and I had a chat before a game in Chicago and we both decided we're going to keel over on the air.''

Waldman said she hopes to do the job "until I don't want to do it anymore or they don't want me to do it.''

Asked about her seemingly year-to-year status, she said, "It doesn't matter to me. I was in theater for a long time. Either you have a job or you don't . . . I'll know when it's time to walk away.''

New York Sports