John Sterling couldn’t joke about the experience 24 hours later, but late on Wednesday night there was nothing funny about an ordeal amid the remains of Hurricane Ida which he called “shattering.”
It included a stalled car on a flooded New Jersey road, and a rescue orchestrated by two of his Yankees radio colleagues – Suzyn Waldman and Rickie Ricardo.
Sterling told Newsday on Thursday that as he drove home from Yankee Stadium to Edgewater, NJ, after mentioning the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Angels in Anaheim from a monitor, he saw “a lot of stranded cars, and I got really scared and thought, ‘Wow, what if that happens to me?'”
When he got within half a mile of his home, his car shorted out in the rising water and was unable to restart it.
“It was raining like crazy and the water was up to your knees,” Sterling said. “So I called Suzyn, who’s a lot smarter than me, and thought she might come up with something.”
Waldman did and called Ricardo, who lives near Sterling and was on his way home.
Ricardo set out to find Sterling and in an interview with WFAN on Thursday recalled the struggle to reach Sterling on his cell phone before finally making contact with him and identifying his friend’s car in the dark on River Road.
Ricardo said the water covered Sterling’s wheels by then and got into the passenger cabin.
“I had to wade in the car,” said Sterling, 83. You can’t believe how high the water was.”
Ricardo, driving a jeep, followed a circuitous path through the chaotic streets to take Sterling home and then took another hour to reach his own house, about a mile from Sterling’s, he told Maggie Gray and Marc Malusis of WFAN.
“It was harrowing, one street after another, you’re trying to find an area where there’s no high water,” Sterling said.
On Thursday, he thanked Ricardo, the Yankees’ Spanish-language announcer, and Waldman, his regular partner, extensively for their help.
“It’s unbelievable what Suzyn did for me and what Rickie did,” he said. “I don’t know what I would have done, really.”
The irony of the situation was that the Mets had rained out at Citi Field, but because Yankees announcers don’t travel to road games, they had to work from the soggy, empty Yankee Stadium and then try to get home.
Michael Kay, Sterling’s TV counterpart, never made it home to Connecticut and spent the night at his alma mater, Fordham, in the Bronx.
Sterling said that when he and Kay walked out of the stadium after the game, they looked at the outfield and saw that it was “a complete lake”.
Sterling noted the severity of the storm — “People died,” he said — adding, “I’m very lucky, and Michael is very lucky.”
He praised the local police, who towed the stranded cars to a local ball court, including Sterling’s leased Cadillac.
“It’s a nice car,” he said, “but it’s not an amphibian.”