New York Yankees radio play-by-play voice John Sterling, 85, is retiring effective immediately, the team and broadcaster both confirmed Monday.

Sterling has been active this spring but had previously encountered some medical issues and had not traveled with the team on road trips during recent seasons. The announcer, who spent 36 years out of his 64-year career with the Yankees, will be honored on Saturday with a ceremony at Yankee Stadium.

Officials with the ballclub and WFAN-AM, where Yankee games are heard in the New York area, had expected Sterling to retire due to health reasons, but they had been leaving the timing of the decision up to him.

“I am a very blessed human being,” Sterling said in a press release. “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.”

The baritone-voiced Sterling, known for his sometimes eccentric home run calls and for his signature “theeeeeeeee Yankees win!” tag to every New York victory, called 5,420 regular season Yankee games and another 211 in the playoffs. Even though radio faded from prominence as a media format over the course of Sterling’s career, social media kept him in the pop-culture spotligh. Last season, a clip of him gamely soldiering on after being struck in the head by a foul ball, earned him new fans across the country.

“Fans find a certain comfort in the daily rhythms of baseball. Day in and day out, season after season, and city after city, John Sterling used his seat in the broadcast booth to bring Yankees fans the heartbeat of the game, employing an orotund voice and colorful personality that were distinctly, unmistakably his own,” the Yankees said in a statement. “John informed and entertained, and he exemplified what it means to be a New Yorker with an unapologetic and boisterous style that exuded his passion for baseball, broadcasting and the New York Yankees.

“There is no shortage of adjectives to describe John and what he means to this organization and our millions of fans around the world. But what makes John a goliath of the sports broadcasting world was how sacred he held his role as voice of the Yankees.”

Dade Hayes

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