Friday marked the first game at Yankee Stadium since the tragic death of two of the organization's most recognizable legends in PA announcer Bob Sheppard and long-time owner George Steinbrenner. While the Yankees put on a touching ceremony honoring both men before the game, the team was noticeably absent at Sheppard's funeral Thursday afternoon.
The Yankees didn't play on Thursday, and it was widely assumed the team attended to the service honoring the man deemed "The Voice of God." It was even reported that a bus carrying the Yankees to the funeral were stuck in Long Island traffic en route. Though there was a major traffic jam on the Long Island Expressway, there was no Yankees' bus involved. In fact, team captain Derek Jeter stated he didn't know when the funeral was.
"To be quite honest with you, I didn't even know his funeral was yesterday,'' Jeter said on Friday, according to ESPN.com."Having said that, I don't necessarily think you have to go to a funeral to honor someone. I think a lot of players have honored him. It's the reason why I've recorded his voice throughout the years, and I'll continue to honor him every time I go to the plate for the rest of my career. But I was not aware of it and I don't know how many of the players were aware of it.''
Jeter is the only player still introduced by Sheppard when he comes to the plate, as he had the legendary announcer record it before his retirement in 2007. According to a team source, Jeter was home visiting family in Tampa on the day of Sheppard's funeral.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman did attend the funeral, however, and was called upon to deliver a eulogy during the service. Cashman admitted to experiencing extreme nerves before being called upon to deliver a eulogy for the "greatest public speaker of them all."
Regardless if you believe the members of the Yankees should have attended Sheppard's funeral, you can't deny they put on a touching tribute to both New York legends before their game against Tampa Bay Friday, led by Jeter himself. The Yanks' bats also came alive for the night's honorees, as Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano went yard and Nick Swisher hit the walk-off single to defeat the Rays 5-4.