Bob Sheppard has been the voice of the New York Yankees since 1951, and has been referred to as "The Voice of God" for equally as long.
His smooth voice has announced virtually every single Yankee immortal, and his eyes have witnessed most of the stadium's greatest moments.
Sheppard will be forced to miss another timeless moment in Yankee history, as an illness will prevent him from doing on opening day what he has done for over 50 years.
Listed at 98 years old, Sheppard's enormous heart keeps beating, and he intends to return to the microphone sometime in April.
I say "listed at 98" because he had gone to great lengths in order to maintain the secrecy of his age. It was only disclosed as a result of an ex-Yankee employee's testimony.
Sheppard has unfortunately struggled through a bronchial infection for quite some time now, and is unsure of a finite recovery date.
As much a symbol of the Yankee organization as George Steinbrenner, Sheppard has been given the honor of a dining area being named after him in the new stadium.
One of my first Yankee Stadium memories was Sheppard announcing my childhood idol Don Mattingly batting third and playing first base:
"At first base...No. 23...Don Mattingly...No. 23."
Sheppard is so beloved in the Bronx that Derek Jeter refused to be announced by anyone else following his departure due to illness.
The Yankees subsequently played a recording of Sheppard's voice introducing the Yankee shortstop, as if "The Voice of God" had never left:
I had the great pleasure to attend the final game ever played at the old Yankee Stadium on September 21, 2008.
During the farewell ceremonies, Sheppard made a surprise appearance on the outfield video screen.
The stadium grew silent, and every fan in the stands that day waited with baited breath to hear what he had to say.
Appearing in better shape than most had feared, Sheppard read a short poem about the stadium he loved and the franchise that looked up to him:
The new stadium will feel like an alien planet when fans show up on April 16 to watch the home opener. However, it would have at least sounded like home had Sheppard's voice carried over the stadium's speakers.
We will all miss hearing him for our own selfish reasons as the season begins, but all we can hope for is his speedy and complete recovery.
Here's to you, Mr. Sheppard.
You are the game's best PA announcer, but most of all you are a great man.