Good news for Thairo Estrada: John Sterling has a home run call ready to go for him.
All he has to do is hit another one.
Estrada hit his first major-league homer on Monday night in the Yankees’ 7-3 victory over the Mariners at Yankee Stadium, but Sterling’s radio call did not feature one of his signature, personalized calls for the rookie.
Soon fans were expressing disappointment on social media, and the YES Network’s Paul O’Neill was visiting the radio booth to ask Sterling what went wrong.
“[O’Neill] came in between innings, so I kiddingly said, ‘Just wait until he hits another home run,’” Sterling told Newsday on Tuesday.
Sterling has expressed astonishment in recent years over the attention that is focused on his calls – or lack thereof – and this was no exception.
“Actually, I’m extremely happy about it,” he said. “It’s amazing. I never figured it when I did ‘Bern, Baby, Bern’ [for Bernie Williams].”
Sterling said he did not have something for Estrada simply because he was not expecting a home run out of the young shortstop so soon. He never had more than eight in a season during his minor-league career.
“I never figured it at all,” he said. “I had nothing prepared, so I didn’t do anything except call the home run . . . Now I am prepared if he hits another home run.”
Might Sterling offer a preview? “Oh, no,” he said. “When he hits it I will.”
The Yankees' ever-changing roster amid a wave of injuries has added to Sterling’s repertoire this spring.
Does he mind the extra work? “I wouldn’t exactly call that work,” he said. “It’s a little mind thing. Some you get easily and some you have to think about.”
As much as Sterling is known for home run calls, he is not a fan of the all-or-nothing nature of the current game, in which strikeouts are more accepted than ever as the price of long balls.
“I don’t like it at all,” he said. “I grew up in the era of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays. None of those guys hit badly. Now you’re seeing guys who are good hitters hitting .230, .240.
“I’d like to see players take advantage of the shift by hitting to the other side . . . Like anyone, I want the ball in play, no question about it.”
But if Estrada puts another one over the fence and out of play on Tuesday, Sterling will be ready.