New York: Rickie Ricardo has had a blast broadcasting Yankees games in English on the flagship WFAN sports radio network. He concludes a week of games Wednesday as the Yankees-played two against the Phillies.
Because longtime Yankees’ radio voice came down ill, Ricardo was asked to step in.
And with this is a season of being in unchartered territory, the Yankees were in Philadelphia and the home team for game 1. Game two, the Yankees were the road team and where they should be if this was a normal season.
Regardless, Ricardo has got his taste of doing play-by-play for the first time on the Yankees radio network. He is the Yankees Spanish play-by-play voice on WADO, also the viable play-by-play announcer for the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team on their Spanish network.
He has worked well for the first time with Suzyan Waldman. John Sterling, the longtime and regular play-by-play radio voice was hospitalized with a blood infection and is doing better.
“Very smoothe, she’s a pro’s pro,” Ricardo said about Waldman. She is the first female to do analysis or play-by-play for a Major League Baseball team.
Adjusting is no issue for Ricardo. Cuban descent, raised and living in Orlando Florida, with a baseball season residence in West New York across the GW Bridge in New Jersey.
During this pandemic and abbreviated baseball season the schedule is rapidly changing due to COVID-19. Players, managers, coaches and personnel are adapting on the field to the medical protocols
And the broadcasters who deliver the games on television and radio are also learning to adapt with the changes. The Yankees as a team are free of COVID, though the schedule has played havoc with the Phillies during the past week.
So here we are with the Yankees radio booth. The unexpected change was made at the last minute when Sterling, who very rarely misses a game, came up ill.
Ricardo, in his seventh year calling Yankees games, indeed painted the picture. There was also instant chemistry with Waldman. It’s not easy filling in the shoes for a legend like John Sterling.
“It was very little adjusting,” he said about working with Waldman. In his words, “It worked organically.”
“I’m not trying to be John, I’m just going to be me what you get in Spanish, an English version,” Ricardo said.
Ricardo has proved he can be the proper voice to replace Sterling, but that is not his decision. It’s up to management and also depends on how long Sterling, a legend wants to continue.
Sterling, 82-years old, still with that classic voice, worked 5,060 games without a break in the radio booth since 1989. That streak concluded last Summer when Sterling was advised by his doctor to get some needed rest.
And this week there have been no mistakes, no overstepping Waldman. They sat in different booths as all Yankees games are broadcast from the booths at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. All baseball broadcasters are adapting to that new norm of broadcasting games from studios or in their home radio booths because of safety protocols due to COVID.
Though, Ricardo and Waldman were able to communicate. They signaled each other each through a glass window in two separate booths at an empty Yankee Stadium. They worked the call off monitors with feeds from the networks of home and away teams.
“You get the full spectrum of what’s happening,” Ricardo said. “I’m used to calling off monitors. We are inside the stadium in a booth, in an empty stadium. “
Rickie Ricardo, born Jorge Lima Jr.,will be relaxed and ready to make another adjustment. Thursday, Sterling returns to work. Ricardo, he returns to the Spanish side.
“I have to learn my Spanish again,” he said. “Adios Amigo” was the home run call for Aaron Judge and the MLB leading home runs the Yankees have hit as a team in the first 10 games of a truncated season.
“It was entertaining,” Ricardo said. “ I was not trying to be John Sterling. This is his seat.”
Yes, It was all original and the professionalism of Rickie Ricardo. And an eventual play-by-play man for the Yankees or another team could be coming.
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