Bob Sheppard’s Voice

"I have an habitual feeling that I am leading a posthumous existence."
-John Keats

By now, I’m sure a lot of you have seen this article about Bob Shepherd from MSNBC:

Given the ovation at the mention of Sheppard’s name last night, it’s clear that there would be no replacement for Sheppard if he sadly never makes it to the new stadium next year.

But due to the state of text-to-speech technology, Sheppard’s voice could be the voice of the starting lineups for the next 50 years, if the Yankees choose to go that route.

Patrick Dexter, director of business development for Cepstral a leader in text-to-speech technology, told CNBC that it would be possible for the company to create a program that would enable the Yankees to have every player – the Yankees and their opponents – be announced by Sheppard’s voice forever.

Maybe I’m not adapting to the changes around me at the right pace, maybe I’m an old fogey, but this strikes me as a little creepy, no? I love his voice as much as the next bleacher creature, but part of why I like it is that it’s connected to someone, this wise elder presiding over the game, watching the game with us. When Shepherd passes, experiencing his voice won’t be the same for this Yankee fan. So why pretend?

H/T: Baseball Think Factory

edit by ag: Thanks to a few insider connections, we were able to score a sample of the technology to see how it performs. Have a listen:

I have to admit, the resemblance is uncanny

15 comments… add one
  • I think they should use the old Appletalk voice. That would be cool.

    SF July 18, 2008, 11:15 am
  • “Maybe I’m not adapting to the changes around me at the right pace, maybe I’m an old fogey, but this strikes me as a little creepy, no?”
    I agree. It takes hagiography to a new level.
    The technologist in me knew this was possible (though some names would still sound a bit funky and how to mimic the human flair of Der-ek Jeee-teh. Number 2.) But the romanticist of the game says it might just be time to move on.

    A YF July 18, 2008, 11:19 am
  • Or that voice that gives the National Weather Service forectasts.

    Paul SF July 18, 2008, 11:20 am
  • by the way, it should be noted that there is no indication that the Yanks are thinking of doing this.

    Nick-YF July 18, 2008, 11:21 am
  • It does feel like an episode of Futurama though. Two hundred years into the future, and another 63 world championships, Sheppard is announcing a Jeter clone (generation 27). Why they didn’t just clone Sheppard I’ll never know.

    A YF July 18, 2008, 11:24 am
  • “Maybe I’m not adapting to the changes around me at the right pace, maybe I’m an old fogey, but this strikes me as a little creepy, no?”
    Amen Nick. That’s just weird. I don’t like when the good times end, but eventually they always do. It’s part of life. I was sad when Mattingly retired but I wasn’t making calls to Dr. Frankenstein to see if we could get him a back-y-otomy.

    John - YF July 18, 2008, 11:35 am
  • Creepy.

    Brad July 18, 2008, 11:35 am
  • “I wasn’t making calls to Dr. Frankenstein to see if we could get him a back-y-otomy”
    haha. I laughed.

    Nick-YF July 18, 2008, 11:37 am
  • If I’m following the thrust of this article correctly:
    1) An ailing Bob Sheppard pre-recorded the 2008 Yankee line-up.
    2) People cheered when they heard Bob Sheppard’s name.
    3) This means no one will want to hear him replaced.
    4) The Yankees should check out voice-print replication software.
    Umm, what? Darren Rovell does excellent work, but that connection is really forced. It’s a tech article shoehorned into sports for no discernible reason.

    FenSheaParkway July 18, 2008, 11:55 am
  • Creepy? Why? I think this would sound awesome!
    Moved it up top.

    attackgerbil July 18, 2008, 1:55 pm
  • Gerb, I think that is the single best “comment” ever left at this site.

    SF July 18, 2008, 3:32 pm
  • Great futurama reference! They did an episode where Rich Little imitated Howard Cosell’s head. And as long as it’s likely that Frank Caliendo will lose his at some point, they should get the ball rolling, so to speak.

    Soxlosophy July 18, 2008, 3:47 pm
  • Now we know why Nick always hated Shelley. He’s a Keats man.

    attackgerbil July 18, 2008, 6:22 pm
  • I actually got that quote from a New Yorker article I was reading at the time I came across this article. Good timing.

    Nick-YF July 18, 2008, 6:40 pm
  • This is kind of creepy but not as creepy as having Ted Williams’ head cryogenically frozen … to be revivified some time in the distant future.

    SoxFan July 19, 2008, 6:42 am

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