Sad news today, as we learned that Yankee house baritone Robert Merrill passed away at age 87.
Like Eddie Layton, the Yankee Stadium's longtime organist (who retired in 2003) and PA announcer Bob Sheppard, Merrill was one of the iconic pieces of the Yankee Stadium experience. For over 30 years, he was a constant, every opening day, Old Timer's, a few special dates throughout the year, he would sing the National Anthem, with such precision and clarity you'd think it was a recording.
When I was a kid, I used to joke that Merrill sang the Star Spangled Banner so quickly, you'd think he had a bus to catch. I wasn't much of an opera fan, back then, either. But as I've grown -- and listened to so many mangle the Anthem so badly -- I grew in appreciation for the fidelity Merrill brought to the table.
Thanks for the memories, Robert. We will miss you.