WATCH: John Sterling’s 10 most iconic Yankees home run calls, from Alex Rodriguez to Giancarlo Stanton

On Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees will honor longtime radio broadcaster John Sterling, who announced his retirement earlier this week. Sterling began broadcasting for the Yankees in 1989 and called more than 5,400 games between the regular season and postseason during his time with the club. Now 85, Sterling is ready to step away from the microphone.

“I am a very blessed human being,” Sterling said in a statement. “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’s personalized home run calls were the soundtrack of summer for generations of Yankees fans. He had a unique home run call for every Yankee, regardless of whether it was part-time player like Eric Hinske (“Hinske with your best shot!”), a star like Aaron Judge (“All rise! Here comes the Judge!”), or a legend on his way to Cooperstown like Derek Jeter (“El Capitan!”).

When the Yankees added a player in the offseason, fans spent the winter trying to guess what Sterling’s home run call would be, but of course they were impossible to predict. Sterling’s calls could invoke former Yankees, baseball history, pop culture, Broadway musicals, perhaps feature a little mangled Italian, you name it. It wasn’t just fans who tried to guess Sterling calls either.

“We’ll be sitting on the bus and we trade for somebody new or it’s somebody’s first game, we’d always go back and forth,’Hey, what’s John going to come up with this time?'” Judge told Newsday earlier this week.

Here, in rough chronological order of when they debuted, are 10 of the best John Sterling home run calls. There were of course variations of each as the game circumstances warranted.

Bernie Williams: “Bern baby Bern!”

“Bern baby Bern” was not the first Sterling call, but for all intents and purposes, it started the craze and it withstands the test of time. Williams made his MLB debut in July 1991 and was the first late-1990s dynasty era Yankee to become a lineup mainstay. A timeless classic, this call is.

Tino Martinez: “The Bam-Tino!”

A Babe Ruth/Great Bambino pun. Sterling got plenty of mileage out of those. Jason Giambi’s home run call was “The Giambino!” and for a while Sterling went with “The Sánchino!” for Gary Sanchez. Martinez authored a 44-homer season in 1997, his second in New York.

Hideki Matsui: “A thrilla from Godzilla!”

One of the greatest sluggers in Japanese baseball history, Matsui arrived in New York with much fanfare in 2003. He had picked up the nickname “Godzilla” for his prodigious power with the Yomiuri Giants, so naturally Sterling incorporated it into his home run call. General rule of thumb: You can’t go wrong with a Godzilla reference.

Alex Rodriguez: “An A-bomb from A-Rod!”

Rodriguez hit 361 home runs with the Yankees between the regular season and postseason, by far the most of anyone during the Sterling era. Sterling called 5,060 consecutive games from 1989 to July 2019, so he called every single one of A-Rod’s homers in pinstripes. This one goes into the record books as his most used call.

Robinson Cano: “Robbie Cano, dontcha know!”

Cool and casual, much like Sterling’s broadcasting style and Cano’s playing style. This is the perfect combination of player and home run call. They should all roll off the tongue this smoothly.

Johnny Damon: “Positively Damonic!”

Sterling added “He hit a Johnny rocket!” to this call and that one never got enough love as an all-time great Sterling call. The Yankees have imported more than a few Boston Red Sox outfielders over the years, including Jacoby Ellsbury (“He Ells-buries it!”) and Alex Verdugo (“Alexander the Great!”), though none came to close to Damon in pinstripes, both on the field and with their Sterling call.

So simple, so perfect. “Gardy goes yardy” and “It’s a Gardy party” were tacked onto this call over the years. Mostly a speed and defense player throughout his career, Gardner did smack 28 home runs in 2019, the year of the dinger.

Mark Teixeira: “He sends a Tex message!”

Sterling is famously low tech. He still has a flip phone, he doesn’t have a personal email account, and getting him to respond to text messages is hit or miss. For Teixeira’s home run call though, Sterling went with the obvious. “You’re on the Mark, Teixeira!” was the companion call here.

Gleyber Torres: “Like a good Gleyber, Torres is there!”

A play on the State Farm jingle — “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!” — Sterling also went with “It’s Gleyber Day” and “He is the Gleyber of the month!” for Torres. This was among Sterling’s most clever calls.

Giancarlo Stanton: “Giancarlo, non si può de stoparlo!”

This is Italian for “Giancarlo, you can’t be stopped!” Stanton hit a grand slam against the Toronto Blue Jays last Sunday, in what would be Sterling’s final game in booth. The grand slam was Sterling’s final home run call.


There are more great Sterling calls than you could possibly count — I’ve always been fond of “Downtown goes Frazier!” for Clint Frazier and “Hechavarria, mama mia!” for Adeiny Hechavarria — and really, his most famous call is his iconic “Ballgame over! Yankees win! Thuuuuuu Yankees win!” after wins, with the length of the “Thuuuuuu” proportional to the magnitude of the win. Above all else, the man was unique. Sterling’s broadcasts never lacked personality.


[colabot]

Leave a Comment