Meeting John Sterling
by Michael Saffer
March 2, 2023
On February 22, I had the unique opportunity to attend an event featuring legendary New York Yankees broadcaster John Sterling.
The event occurred at Temple Emanu-El in New York City. It was a small gathering with only about 25 guests which made it great.
Mr. Sterling, donning his 2009 World Series championship ring, talked about his career in broadcasting and shared a few interesting stories about the Yankees—one story in particular involved George Steinbrenner. In 1995 during a broadcast, Sterling was vocal about blaming the players for on-field lack of success rather than the manager and coaches. After the heartbreaking loss to the Mariners in the Division Series, Sterling explained how he bumped into Steinbrenner in the parking lot waiting for the team bus. “Steinbrenner stood there with his arms crossed,” explained Sterling. Steinbrenner pointed directly at me and proclaimed in his powerful voice, “There will be changes next year; you can be sure of that!"
Steinbrenner then added, “Don’t worry, you and Michael Kay are safe.” The attendees laughed, knowing Steinbrenner’s personality.
After his presentation, Mr. Sterling opened the floor for questions. One attendee asked how he felt about Charlie Steiner making the Aaron Boone home run call in the 2003 League Championship Series, sending the Yankees to the World Series. “Wasn’t that your call to make?" asked the attendee. Sterling gave a pithy response...” Well, he wasn’t in the booth much longer, was he?”
The evening, as I described, would have been significant enough. However, while waiting for the event to begin, I met former public relations director of the New York Yankees and baseball historian Marty Appel, who attended to support John Sterling, his former colleague.
Mr. Appel and I discussed the new rule changes and the World Baseball Classic. Mr. Appel even introduced me to John Sterling himself.
Overall, meeting Mr. Sterling and listening to his baseball and career stories was a pleasure. My conversation about various topics in baseball with Marty Appel made the night even more special.