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Legendary Yankees voice left it all at the mic: ‘Tank is empty’

In Sports
April 21, 2024

Legendary New York Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling was honored Saturday at Yankee Stadium, days after announcing his retirement.

Sterling, 85, spoke to the media before the Yankees’ home game versus the Tampa Bay Rays and emphasized that once the 2024 season began, he didn’t believe he could make it through another long campaign after 64 years in broadcasting.

“I can’t believe this has happened to me, I retired because I just can’t do it,” Sterling said. “I can do the games, the games are easy. And working with Suzyn [Waldman] is a lark. But I just don’t have the strength and stamina.”

Sterling explained that he realized his energy was gone after the Yankees’ season-opening seven-game road trip.

“I should’ve quit on March 1 or March 15,” Sterling admitted. “But I decided I’d do one exhibition game, which is useless, as you well know. And then we went on that long trip, we went to Houston and Arizona. And boy, I knew that was it. I knew I didn’t want to work every day. And I told you how long I’ve been working. If you work 64 years and on your next birthday you’ll be 86, I think it’s time.”

Sterling’s career calling Yankees broadcasts began in 1989, during some tough years in team history. In a four-year span, the Yankees didn’t finish higher than fourth place in an AL East that then included seven teams. After that, the team began a dynastic 16-year run that included 12 first-place finishes in the division and five World Series championships.

Despite the glory years he covered and the adulation he received from fans and media, Sterling’s remarks were a reminder that broadcasting is a job and after 64 years in the business, he’s ready for a rest.

“You know what, I’m really tired,” he said. “I’m looking forward to not being on the air, which will start tomorrow.”

“I don’t know, all about all this ‘never missing a game’ and ‘making all the games,'” he added. “You know, my family is all here. They had to be supported, somebody had to send them to college. I was working and I would do the next game and the next game. Luckily, I had good health and good stamina.”

Appearing later in the YES Network broadcast booth with Michael Kay, Sterling was asked if he envisioned watching a Yankees game later in the season and wishing he’d been able to call that action.

“No,” said Sterling. “I’m exhausted. Mel Stottlemyre would say to the pitcher in his last inning, ‘Empty the tank.’ Well, my tank is empty.”

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