Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling.

Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling. Credit: Jim McIsaac

John Sterling, the signature radio voice of the Yankees for multiple generations of fans and four World Championships, retired on Monday.

The Yankees made the announcement and said Sterling would be honored before Saturday’s game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.

“I am a very blessed human being,” Sterling, 85, said in a statement released by the team. “I have been able to do what I wanted, broadcasting for 64 years.

“As a little boy growing up in New York as a Yankees fan, I was able to broadcast the Yankees for 36 years. It’s all to my benefit, and I leave very, very happy. I look forward to seeing everyone again on Saturday.”

Sterling called 5,420 regular-season Yankees games and 211 playoff games dating to 1989. He did not miss a game until 2019, but in recent years he has cut back on his schedule as a concession to age and health problems.

This season, he worked the Yankees’ opening trip to Houston and Arizona but was scheduled to limit himself to home games and short road trips thereafter.

In a brief interview with Newsday on Monday evening, Sterling did not address whether health issues had caused him to leave now. His final game was the Yankees’ 8-3 victory over the Blue Jays on April 7.

He sounded more relieved than saddened by his decision. “I’ve wanted this for a long time,” he told Newsday. “I should have done it March 1.

“I had this great offseason. We didn’t make the playoffs and I was off October, November, December, January, February and March, and I really rued the coming of the season. If I had any guts, I would have quit on March 1.”

“Anyway, it’s something that I very much want to do, and I can’t wait for it to happen.”

Justin Shackil and Emmanuel Berbari are expected to continue working alongside Suzyn Waldman in Sterling’s absence after filling in the past two seasons.

Waldman, Sterling’s color analyst since 2005, choked up a bit talking about her longtime partner and friend.

“To see it on paper is pretty final. I’ve known for quite a while, but it’s pretty final to see it on paper,’’ she said. “That gets me emotional. I’ve said to people before, nothing will ever be the same. It can’t be. Life goes on and we all go on, but nothing will ever be the same . . . We’ve been friends since ’87 when I was doing updates on FAN and he came in and did a talk show. He stood up for four hours with his hand in his ear and I said, this is a really interesting human being . . . he’s one of a kind. You can’t even describe his personality because that would diminish it. There will never be another person like that.”

Sterling is known for his signature home run calls and for punctuating Yankees victories with, “Ballgame over! The Yankees win … Theeeeeee Yankees win!”

He also was known for his consistency and stamina. He called 5,060 consecutive games from September 1989 to July 2019.

“Day in and day out, season after season, and city after city, John Sterling used his seat in the broadcast booth to bring Yankees fans the heartbeat of the game, employing an orotund voice and colorful personality that were distinctly, unmistakably his own,” the Yankees said in a news release. “John informed and entertained, and he exemplified what it means to be a New Yorker with an unapologetic and boisterous style that exuded his passion for baseball, broadcasting and the New York Yankees.”

He called the entire careers of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, and was well into Aaron Judge’s Yankees term when he decided to retire.

“Yankees radio will never quite sound the same without the signature voice, wit and humor of John Sterling,” WFAN, Sterling’s most recent radio home, said in a news release.

“To generations of Bronx Bombers fans, he was a beloved companion that when you heard John, you knew it was time for baseball. Though he never wore the pinstripes, except of course for his fine tailored suits, he was one of the most colorful personalities in Yankees history and in all of New York City radio.”

Sterling, who grew up in Manhattan, joined the Yankees from Atlanta, where he called basketball and baseball games. He worked in New York in the 1970s, calling Nets and Islanders games and working as a sports talk radio host in the pre-WFAN era.

While calling Yankees games, he also was a host of YES Network programs and an emcee for on-field Yankees events, often alongside his former radio partner and current YES announcer Michael Kay.

Chris Oliviero, market president for Audacy’s New York stations, including WFAN, told Newsday last month that he hoped Sterling would get to call one more World Series. But he added, “We all recognize reality, and at some point, my phone's going to ring and it's going to be John and he's going to be like, ‘No mas; I'm done.’ ”

That reality arrived Monday.

When Newsday reached Sterling before the Yankees made the news official, he confirmed that he would be talking about his future this weekend. His voice sounded strong and he laughed about all the attention he was getting.

“There is no shortage of adjectives to describe John and what he means to this organization and our millions of fans around the world,” the Yankees said. “But what makes John a goliath of the sports broadcasting world was how sacred he held his role as voice of the Yankees.

“Showing up to perform virtually every single day since 1989, he was a pillar for Yankees fans who relied on the comfort and familiarity of his voice to be the soundtrack of their spring, summer and fall.”

 With Erik Boland

A collection of John Sterling's home run calls of current Yankees (in alphabetical order):.

Oswaldo Cabrera: "Oswaldo Cabrera. The wizard of Oz."

Aaron Judge: "All rise! Here comes the Judge! On Judgment Day, he homers to [location]!" It has become: "A Judge-ian blast . . . It's Judge-ment Day, and here comes the Judge."

DJ LeMahieu: "David John makes long gone!"

Anthony Rizzo: "Nobody beats the Riz. Rizzo rakes once again."

Juan Soto: "There is a Soto photo," followed by a melodic "He's Juan-derful, marvelous."

Giancarlo Stanton: "Giancarlo, non si può stoparlo! It is a Stantonian home run!"

Gleyber Torres: "This is Gleyber Day! And he is the Gleyber of the month!" as well as "Like a good Gleyber, Torres is there!" It has more recently been combined to: "Oh what a Gleyber Day. Like a good Gleyber, Torres is there."

Jose Trevino: "Hooray, Jose!" which later became "Ole, Jose!"

Alex Verdugo: “Alex Verdugo! . . . Alexander the Great trots around.”

Anthony Volpe: "Anthony Volpe! A spettacolo oggi! The fox socks one to left!"

Austin Wells: "All’s well that ends well."

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