John Sterling leaves for Florida on Wednesday, energized by his usual “tremendous excitement” for Yankees spring training in advance of another season in their radio booth.
But he said he cannot recall looking forward to a season more, in part because he expects the Yankees to be good again, in part because he thinks the Mets will be also.
“It could be a terrific baseball summer in New York,” he said on Monday, “and the other teams haven’t really done their jobs, in football and basketball and hockey . . . You know, it’s a baseball town in New York. People are in on it; my God are they in on it! I think it could be an electric summer.”
But it has not gone unnoticed for Sterling as he heads south that one local hockey team very much has done its job: The Islanders are in first place in the Metropolitan Division.
Even four decades after he last called their games on radio, Sterling still roots for them to succeed – particularly since their new team president arrived last year.
“I’m a Lou Lamoriello fan,” he said. “Over the years, he has treated me and my family marvelously . . . I knew that when Lou went to Toronto that franchise would turn around, and when he went to the Island, I knew it would turn around. But I didn’t expect this [much early success].
“I’m very, very happy for him. Doing the Yankees is my life. Well, running hockey is Lou’s life, and he’s done it from Providence to the Devils to the Maple Leafs to the Islanders. Wherever he goes, there’s success. It’s kind of like [Bill] Parcells.
“I’m very happy for the Islanders. I just wish they would get their building situation straightened out.”
Sterling called games for the New York Raiders of the WHA in 1972-73, when they played home games at Madison Square Garden, then called Islanders games from 1975-76 to ’77-78.
“I knew the Coliseum was utilitarian, even when it was dedicated [in 1972], but when I was doing the Islanders, they were winning every game at home,” he said. “The place was sold out, and it was terrific.”