If you’ve been to Yankee Stadium this season, you’ve likely noticed that the PA announcer hasn’t been the legendary Bob Sheppard — who’s held that position since 1951, earning the nickname “The Voice of God” — but his backup, Jim Hall, who essentially announces names in a half-hearted Bob Sheppard impression. Sheppard, 97, has been on the PA-announcers’ disabled list since last season with an illness, and he’s said that he isn’t sure if he’ll be able to return at all this season. At the risk of sounding morbid, we have to wonder if he’ll ever return to the mic. After all, he’s 97. Which is why we were excited to see this CNBC article detailing text-to-speech technology that could allow Sheppard’s voice to announce lineups in perpetuity.
We have no idea how this works — from the article, it sounds like it would require ten hours of Sheppard’s time and someone to phonetically spell “Jorge” as “Hor-hay” — but it would allow names and numbers to be called by a computer in Sheppard’s voice. And though the writer, Darren Rovell, makes no mention of the Yankees actually expressing any interest in this technology (perhaps because it’s borderline creepy), we’ll take creepy and nostalgic over generic and boring any day. Rovell says the technology would cost six figures, but when you’re building a stadium for $1.3 billion, what’s another couple hundred grand? A modest proposal: Ditch the Hard Rock Café, and save the Voice of God. —Joe DeLessio