Column | John Sterling presented Key to the Borough at the Bronx Ball

John Sterling receives the Key to the Borough from Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson.
John Sterling receives the Key to the Borough from Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson.
Photo Green Canvas Photography & Erika Kapin

The Bronx Ball is known to be an exciting night for many reasons — but one of the most “key” aspects of the event is the presentation of the Key to the Borough, which is awarded to a Bronxite who has had a unique impact on The Bronx.

This year, the Key went to John Sterling, the legendary sportscaster for the New York Yankees. Sterling recently retired from his post after 36 years with the Yankees. He called 5,060 consecutive games during his career with the team, which was so vast that it included all of the games in which Derek Jeter played. In addition to receiving the Key to the Borough, Sterling’s accolades include 12 Emmy Awards and induction into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Sterling was known for ending winning games with the line “Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeee Yankees win!”, which was immediately followed by the song “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra playing in the stadium. As he approached the stage at the Ball, the same song played in honor of the one-of-a-kind impact he had on the Borough’s favorite baseball team. Sterling is more than a broadcaster — he is a reminder of the kind of magic that can only happen in The Bronx.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson presented Sterling with the key in front of over 500 guests onstage at the Ball. Sterling then spoke about how his career led him elsewhere throughout the country before he returned to New York.

“When I came up here from Atlanta, I had no idea it was going to last this long and be the greatest treasure of my life,” Sterling said. “I think I’m a very, very lucky young man.”

Sterling also surprised the crowd by ending his acceptance speech very similarly to how he ended every winning game at Yankee Stadium.

“I’ll end this way,” he said. “Bronx wins, theeeee Bronx wins!”

And the Bronx did win that night — not only was the Ball sold out, but it also celebrated several remarkable individuals, like Sterling, who left an indelible mark on the borough.

Jilleen Barrett is director of communications and marketing at the BXEDC.