Radio Legend Suddenly Retires

( – In a surprise announcement, 85-year-old John Sterling, the play-by-play announcer for the New York Yankees, is retiring.

He will be stepping away from his job effective immediately, with reports saying that the sudden decision was brought about by “health concerns.” There are no other details, however, of what those health issues might be. Sterling has battled several health issues over the years, and his age and condition put restrictions on his travel, prompting an earlier decision to limit his work to the cities on the East Coast that are closer to New York. Sterling had also hinted in an earlier interview with news outlet The Athletic that he was “near the end” of his career, although he did not specify when that would be.

Justin Shackil, who has filled in for the iconic announcer in the past, has been calling the Yankees’ games after Sterling’s departure. Shackil, who is 37, made his bones as a boxing commentator, and is with his second season as postgame host and primary play-by-play announcer with the Yankees.

Another announcer, Emmanuel Berbari, is also expected to step in to fill the shoes Sterling left behind. Berbari is 24, and previously broadcast games for the team’s Class A affiliate in Hudson Valley, and is also a talk show host and update anchor for WFAN.

Both Shackil and Berbari are graduates of the exclusive, Jesuit-run Fordham University in the Bronx.

No plans have yet been announced on finding a full-time replacement for Sterling.

In a statement, Sterling said that he was grateful and blessed to have the opportunity to work in broadcasting for 64 years, and serve as the broadcaster for 36 years.

“It’s all to my benefit, and I leave very, very happy,” Sterling said.

Sterling served as the WFAN announcer for the Yankees for more than 5,400 regular seasons and 211 postseason games, and is known for his catchphrase, “It is high! It is far! It is gone!”

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