Sterling handles play-by-play for the team’s radio broadcasts, currently on WFAN, and will call Tuesday and Wednesday games featuring “Subway Series” matchups against the New York Mets. Starting on Thursday’s broadcast of the Yankees-Tampa Bay Devil Rays game, he will replaced by by Ryan Ruocco of YES and ESPN. The arrangement will cover four games between the Yankees and the Devil Rays. After that series wraps on Sunday, all Major League Baseball teams will take a break for the All-Star Game on July 9.
According to the New York Post, which broke the news, Sterling cited an unspecified illness. “For the moment, I’m a little under the weather,” Sterling told the paper. “I’ve put in the time. I want to feel better and they think this is the time for me to do it — and I agree.”
In 1989, his first year as the radio voice of the Yankees, Sterling missed two games due to a death in his family. Don Mattingly played first base for that team, and Deion Sanders was in the outfield. Initial media reports on Sterling’s streak coming to an end compared it with another Yankee streak, the immortal consecutive-games run of first baseman Lou Gehrig in the 1920s and ’30s.
Sterling is known for his deep baritone and trademark calls like “the-e-e-e-e Yankees win!” and home run proclamations tailored to individual players, which have included “It’s an A-Bomb, by A-Rod” and “This is Gleybor Day!” Each round-tripper is preceded by a climactic description, “It is high, it is far, it is gone!”
Many Twitter users posted fond wishes for Sterling. Michael Kay, who has held down the same play-by-play role on Yankee TV broadcasts on the YES Network, tweeted his support. “Sincere love and big time props go out to my friend John Sterling, who will finally take a well deserved weekend off to be ready for the second half of the season,” he wrote. “30-plus years without missing a game because of illness is amazing. Get some rest, my friend.”