John Sterling's 30-year streak of calling Yankees games on the radio is coming to an end.
“What I’m going to do is take the four games against Tampa off and then there’s the All-Star break,” Sterling told Newsday on Tuesday. “By the way, almost every announcer for every team in every sport takes some days off during the season, you know.”
But not Sterling, whose streak goes back to 1989, his first season with the Yankees. That September he missed a two-game series in Seattle after the death of his sister.
Sterling, speaking with WFAN's Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Tuesday, said he was feeling "a little under the weather. I'll have a week to get myself together."
He will be replaced in the broadcast booth in Tampa by Ryan Ruocco of the YES Network and ESPN. Suzyn Waldman, Sterling's longtime broadcast partner, will work alongside Ruocco.
“It’s an awesome streak," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "I’m just glad and hopeful that the little break is something that can be beneficial for him moving forward so that he’s fresh and good to go for the second half of the season, but his voice, his calls, I try and listen to them every night if I go back and want to see certain plays or watch highlights, I always love it hearing it with a John Sterling call, so hopefully it’s a few days that allow him to recharge, refresh and be able to do his thing the way he’s capable of in the second half for us.”
Sterling's absence will be most unusual for Suzyn Waldman.
"It will be really different since my whole radio career with the New York Yankees, all I’ve ever done is be with John and I’ve known him for over 30 years," Waldman said. "We finish each other’s sentences. We look at things the right way. But I’m not really concerned with his streak. I’m concerned with him taking care of himself and I’m concerned about the future, not what’s happened in the past.”
Thursday marks what is believed to be Sterling’s 81st birthday, though he has long refused to discuss his age.
Sterling's streak was in jeopardy earlier this season. Sterling was prepared to miss the Yankees' June 26 game against the Blue Jays for his triplets’ high school graduation, but the ceremony was moved to the evening, allowing him to work the 1 p.m. game that day.
Sterling could have missed a game in 2016, but his older daughter’s high school graduation fell on an off day during a homestand. She is a student at Syracuse and is slated to graduate on May 10, 2020, a Sunday.
“Next year at this time, when Abby will be graduating from Syracuse," Sterling said May 7, "I guarantee you I’ll go up there."
With Neil Best