The John Sterling Project is now updated as of August 19, 2016. Ronald Torreyes is the latest addition to the roll.
John Sterling must have been a busy man during spring training. Considering the turnover of the Yankees’ roster, the veteran broadcaster probably spent most of March scribbling down personalized home run calls for all the new players in the Bronx Bombers’ lineup. And, with Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, and Kevin Youkilis all going deep in the opening week of the season, it didn’t take long for Sterling to share the fruits of his labor.
Being christened with a personalized home run call has become a rite of passage for newcomers to the Bronx, but Sterling’s baptisms by rhymes, alliterations, and Broadway show tunes weren’t always part of a new Yankee’s initiation. The “Bern, Bernie, Bernie” serenade for Bernie Williams is widely believed to be the first re-occurring Sterling home run stamp, and the genesis of that call goes back to the 1990s, but the practice did not become universal until years later. Unfortunately, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the routine began.
In celebration of John Sterling’s 25th year calling Yankee games (he has never missed a single broadcast), listed below is the beginning of an attempt to catalog every personalized home run call uttered by the broadcaster. Based on recollections, which were confirmed by Michael Kay, who partnered with Sterling from 1992 to 2001, the starting season for the project was set at 2002. Since that time, 120 different Yankees have homered (including Tyler Austin, for whom Sterling did not have a signature call ready), but so far, I have identified at least one personalized home run call for only 89 (updated on August 19, 2016).
The goal of the John Sterling Project is to fill in the blanks in the list below. Because Sterling has evolved from ordaining only prominent players with a distinct home run call to extending the honor to all hitters, not every blank will have an answer. However, if you know of a Sterling call not included below, please leave a comment (along with corroborating sources or audio links, if possible). You can’t predict John Sterling, but you can at least try to record his genius for future generations.
Note: Some calls have evolved over time; the ones presented in the list above are believed to be the most prominent renditions. Calls in bold have not been confirmed by either memory, reputable sources, or archived audio. Entries separated by “/” represent different scripts, not variations of the same calls.