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John Sterling sits down with Michael Kay on YES’ ‘CenterStage’

John Sterling, right, sits down with Michael Kay

John Sterling, right, sits down with Michael Kay for an episode of YES Network's "CenterStage." Credit: E. H. Wallop

“CenterStage” has been a staple of the YES Network’s lineup since the channel premiered in 2002, and there have been more than 200 episodes of the interview show hosted by Michael Kay.

Yet, strangely, one of the most visible – and colorful – personalities in Yankeeland never has been featured on the show. Until now.

An episode featuring longtime radio play-by-play man John Sterling will premiere Wednesday night after the encore showing of the Yankees’ afternoon game against the Rays at Citi Field.

Sterling addresses a variety of topics, including how then-owner George Steinbrenner gave him an early vote of confidence:

“The team was very bad – ’89, ’90, ’91, terrible teams – and I said [during a broadcast], ‘Blame the players. They’re the ones who are making out. They’re the ones who can’t get anyone out.’

“So two nights later, we’re in Milwaukee and there’s a rain delay. And so I’m walking around this maze of booths in this old stadium. George is sitting in one of the booths. And he stopped me and – think of how good this made me feel – he said to me, ‘I just want you to know you’ll always be the Yankee announcer. And if they try to hire anyone [else], I’ll veto it.’”

On the origin of his Yankees home run calls:

“I guess one day Bernie Williams hit one and I said, ‘Bern, baby, Bern,’ and that was the beginning of it. Nick Swisher, he hit a home run and I called him ‘Jolly Old Saint Nick.’ And he didn’t like it. He said, ‘It makes me sound like a fat old man.’ So, I changed it to, ‘He’s Swishalicious,’ and he loved that.”

On his Islanders calls for WMCA in the 1970s:

“Every hockey announcer says, ‘He shoots, he scores,’ like that’s . . . religion. So I didn’t. I try to be ahead of the play, so when the shot would go in, I’d yell, ‘Goal! Islander goal! Islander goal!’ And it caught on.”

On retirement:

“Well, first thing I have to do is I have to get four kids through college. After they’re all through . . . You know, we’ll see. I can’t imagine retiring.”

On who he would have as his dinner guests, living or dead:

Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter and Noël Coward.


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