John Sterling honored by Yankees for 36 seasons and 5,631 games as broadcaster

John Sterling was honored during an on-field ceremony Saturday following his retirement as a New York Yankees broadcaster for 36 seasons.

Sterling, who turns 86 on July 4, was presented a jersey with No. 5,631 — representing his total of regular and postseason games as the team’s radio play-by-play voice.

Clips of his most memorable calls were played. Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter gave video tributes, Tino Martinez presented sterling silver Yankees cufflinks and broadcast partners Michael Kay and Suzyn Waldman an engraved silver microphone. Haley Swindal Steinbrenner, granddaughter of late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, gave the jersey to Sterling, who was flanked by his family.

Frank Sinatra’s recording of “My Way” was played as Sterling walked back stiffly to the Yankees dugout. Bleacher Creatures chanted his name during their Roll Call in the first inning of the game against Tampa Bay.

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“What I really want to do is to thank you and I’ll tell you why,” Sterling told fans, who stood through the tribute and chanted his name. “Person after person, group after group, have come to me with kindness, respect and love, and how lucky can you be for people to celebrate what you do for a living? You know, I had to bring these people up and I had make money to do it. So you, the fans have been phenomenal to me over the past 36 years.”

Sterling announced his retirement Monday.

“I’m really tired, so I’m looking forward to not being on the air,” Sterling said during a news conference before the ceremony.

“I did it all wrong,” Sterling said. “I should have quit on March 1st or March 15th, but I decided I’d do one exhibition game, which is useless, and you well know, and when we went on that long trip, we went to, Houston and Arizona, and, boy, I knew that was it. 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’re going to be 86. I think it’s time.”

Sterling could wind up being honored in Monument Park, where plaques commemorate broadcaster Mel Allen and public address announcer Bob Sheppard.

“If they say to you we’re going to put a plaque up in Monument Park, you would say, `Oh, no, don’t do that,” Sterling said. “If it happens, it happens.”

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