Only one person can say they have filled in for John Sterling during his 28-year tenure in the Yankees radio booth. You likely never have heard of him. His name is Chris Lentine.
When Sterling missed two games in Seattle late in the 1989 season for his sister’s funeral, he was replaced by the WABC broadcast team’s 26-year-old producer who had never called a game on the radio.
“I remember saying other than playing third base for the Yankees, this is as good as it gets for me,” Lentine said recently. “At the time it was pretty incredible.”
Lentine thinks he did okay. “I didn’t get laughed off the air, let’s put it that way,” he said. But he also didn’t stay in radio.
After that season he moved to newspapers before settling into his current job at Major League Baseball. Now 53, Lentine is MLB’s senior director of statistics.
He also enjoys his little-known place as a footnote in Yankee radio history, saying he enjoyed working alongside Sterling that year.
“He lived and breathed the Yankees, and in ’89 the Yankees stunk (74-87, fifth place),” Lentine said. “And let me tell you, he took every loss to heart…
“When I listen to him now, he’s the same. It’s just that five championships and three World Series appearances later, he’s bigger than life.”