October 2009

Lifetime Stadium Pass

lifetimepass_310.jpgThere’s a metal gold and red lifetime stadium pass in our kitchen junk drawer about the size of a credit card. It reads: “American/National Major Leagues of Professional Baseball present this LIFETIME PASS to KENNETH SINGLETON AND ONE in appreciation of long and meritorious service.” It’s signed by then American League president Lee MacPhail Jr. and then National League president Charles S. Feeney (leagues no longer have presidents, according to Ken).

The pass is scratched up, bent, and very tarnished – after all, it’s old. Ken retired from the field 25 years ago. He saw the pass sitting on my desk in my office as I’m writing.

“I was looking for that,” he said.

“You were?” I laughed. “Why? When would you ever need this?”

Hard to imagine stadium personnel would require Ken to show his permanent metal pass to get into a Major League ballpark, nor can I imagine him attending as a fan in the first place to watch a game. (Why should he when he can view sports on his High Def TV from a choice of nine brown La-Z-Boy recliners in our theater room?)

Besides in the stands at Oriole Park at Camden Yards during Cal Ripken’s 2,131st consecutive game in 1995, where Ken had been invited to participate in a postgame ceremony, I’ve only seen him sitting in press boxes (not counting the bleachers at our three sons’ Little League and Minor League games).

Wouldn’t it be comical to see the look on a front gate attendant’s face when we tried to push through the turnstile using Ken’s metal lifetime pass?

“What IS this antiquated thing?” I’d imagine s/he would ask us. “Hold on, I better get my supervisor.”

My guess is that no stadium staff member has ever laid eyes before on a Major League Lifetime Pass.

“I think once you play 10 years, you get one,” said Ken. He cracks me up – he thinks he might use it “years from now.”

Guess I’ll be the “AND ONE” he takes along.

The fans named Ferraro

Joe Ferraro of Smithtown, Long Island, N.Y., said he didn’t move from his chair Sunday night watching the Yanks win the pennant. Ken had phoned him today to talk baseball and Joe said he has watched every inning of every game and every minute of every pre- and postgame show on the YES Network.

The Ferraros are THE biggest Yankees fans ever.

Joe and his wife Ida are actually my friends from long ago — we met in 1982 in Jamaica. I think the Ferraro family was extremely happy when I married Ken and then ecstatic when he started calling games for the Yankees back with the MSG Network.

And listen, not that I know all of the rest of you die-hard Yankees fans personally, and I’m positive many of you out there in Yankeeland claim the same title, yet I’ve seen this Ferraro family in baseball action — and reaction — over the team. It’s unbelievable.

Once, Joe’s father-in-law Vinnie Aprea was watching a game and something went wrong for the Yankees. Vinnie got so mad he tipped over backwards in his easy chair! That’s Joe’s favorite story to tell.

ferraros_300.jpgWhen Ken, the kids and I visit the Ferraros in Smithtown, Ken is one popular guy there, let me tell you. Joe, his brothers and sisters, and their entire somewhat large Ferraro clan, and the related Apreas and their big Italian family, toss many baseball questions Ken’s way. He doesn’t mind; he appreciates their enthusiasm because it matches his passion for the game.

Joe already is preparing for next year, he told Ken. He wants Carl Crawford from Tampa Bay on the team. Ken said that might be tough.

Three of Joe’s kids — Joseph, Vincent and Anita — were at Game 6. CC Sabathia flipped a ball to Joseph before the game, and Vincent got one from A.J. Burnett. Their sister Luci and mom Ida watched as many games as they could from out of town.

Anita posted on Facebook after the win: “Being at that Yankee game was insanity. Hugging random people … the whole stadium singing ‘New York, New York’” … everyone going crazy in the street. It was one of the most SENSATIONAL situations of my life.”

Coconut macaroons among the fan mail?

With the oodles of boxes and envelopes – large and small, bulky and flat, neat and sloppy – that over the years have entered our house from autograph-seeking fans, I’ve sort of become immune to them. Fan mail is scattered everywhere in the Singleton house – on Ken’s desk, in the La-Z-Boy chairs, on the dresser, and in the kitchen where the household mail piles up for the secretary to process (don’t be so impressed – she and I are the same person).

Yet once in a while the contents of an envelope or box, after it was spread across the kitchen table where Ken opened the mail, peaks my interest and I’ll pick up a letter to scan, view an old Ken Singleton baseball card, handle the nifty pen included to sign it, or marvel at a small plastic container of coconut macaroons.

Did I say macaroons?

In the last batch of “interesting things people mail to Ken,” one longtime Yankee fan Joyce Rockwood of New York City baked a batch of “Joyce’s Yummy Homemade Macaroons” and delivered them first to Yankee Stadium, and when it was rejected there, mailed her package with a nicely scrawled note that suggested Ken share the cookies in the YES booth.

gloveonhead_350_102009.jpgI imagined Joyce painstakingly placing a chosen and thoughtful selection of other items into the box along with her friendly letter … a coffee table Orioles book photographed by her dad David Spindel; a photo of young Joyce in Bucky Dent’s locker in 1978; another current photo of baseball-glove-on-her-head Joyce next to her husband Ken at Yankee Stadium (which my Ken mentioned on-air); her business card; the carefully hand-rolled coconut macaroons of course … oh! … the recipe (see below) in case Ken feels like donning a baker’s apron during the offseason. (Actually he bakes only chocolate cakes, but there’s always hope he’ll try something new.)

I e-mailed Joyce to thank her for the entire package and told her if we lived in a perfect world, baseball husbands would have time to respond to each piece of fan mail. (He does the best he can, God love him. Gee, I hope Macaroon Joyce wasn’t disappointed that she heard only from Mrs. Singy.)

Then I told her if I liked coconut at all, I would have tasted what I’m certain must be THE YUMMIEST macaroons ever baked by a Yankees fan. (Yet apologized because I cannot think to place coconut into my mouth … well, except in the case of swigging my all-time favorite cocktail – Malibu Coconut Rum and diet soda – a drink my girlfriends and I have christened “The Suntan Lotion.”)

Dear Joyce … people such as yourself and your husband Ken, who take the time with such fun gestures, and are determined that a package reach its destination, are surely to be applauded. There are other fans out there who also should be thanked one by one.

Where is that darn secretary when you need her anyhow?

_______________________

Joyce’s Yummy Homemade Macaroons
(Raw Vegan Vanilla Macaroons)

I asked permission of Joyce before posting to ensure this isn’t a handed-down secret family recipe that she shares only with YES announcers.

? 9 cups organic unsweetened shredded coconut
? 4 cups raw cashew powder (blend raw cashews to make this)
? 2-1/4 cups maple syrup
? 5 T coconut oil
? 3 T vanilla extract
? 1 teaspoon sea salt
? just the right amount of love
? optional: 1-2 T cinnamon; 1 T peppermint extract; replace cashew powder with 2-1/4 cups cacao powder to make chocolate macaroons. If exchanging cashew powder, also remove 1 T vanilla extract and replace with 1 T almond extract.

Place all ingredients in large bowl and mix well to blend thoroughly. (Cut recipe in half to make smaller batch.) Using a scoop with spring action release (single meatballer works perfectly), scoop out even portions to a dehydrator tray. Pressing firmly with fingers, make macaroons as compact as possible in the baller before releasing onto tray. Dehydrate @ 115 degrees for 8-10 hours or until crisp on outside and chewy on inside.

These tasty treats are free of yeast, dairy, and gluten. Share with a fellow NY Yankee commentator for added fun!

To your health!
Joyce Rockwood

Sick or healthy, kids are kids!

(and those with cancer are still cool)
Cool Kids Campaign first began in memory of late Orioles shortstop Mark Belanger

coolkids_300.jpgIt never seems to be the right order of things when people pass to death before the average human life span has been reached.

These were surely the thoughts of Ken and his former teammates as they were forced to bid goodbye to a teammate and friend in Belanger – eight-time Rawlings Gold Glove award winner – who passed from lung cancer October 6, 1998 at the young age of 54.

And although sometimes God’s plans deem a young death for reasons we cannot comprehend, none of us can do a darn thing about it … except to afterwards honor a loved one in some grand gesture.

In memory and honor of the shortstop stands a wonderful foundation called the Cool Kids Campaign (initially named the Belanger-Federico Foundation), started by Belanger’s son Rob and his close friend Chris Federico. The duo wanted to raise funds for lung cancer research by hosting a golf tournament to honor parents lost to cancer. (Chris’ mom Susannah died of leukemia.)

Enter idea genius and co-founder Sharon Perfetti, and four years later, the Cool Kids Campaign thrives with a cool list of programs: Cool Kids Cafe, Cool Kids Care Packages, Cancer Fears Me! product line, Cool Kids Reading Challenge, Cool Kids Family Support Fund and an array of other cool fundraisers to assist kids with cancer as they muddle through the ordeals of chemotherapy, radiation, and too many hospital visits.

“Dad went out of his way to bring smiles to kids’ faces when he gave autographs,” said Rob Belanger of his father Mark. “I think he’d be ecstatic about the campaign if he were alive now.”

His father probably would have become an ambassador he said, to help the program along as he rallied with his time and energy. Baltimorean Kimmie Meissner, a world champion figure skater, is an ambassador for the campaign and makes appearances at most of their events.

Ken, as an honorary board member, hosted their June 2009 golf tournament here in Baltimore. I have the pleasure of volunteering as copy editor for their Cool Kids Connection quarterly newspaper and assist with writing projects as needed.

The kids – mostly those being treated through Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland hospitals – are even treated to end-of-chemo parties, with cake and ice cream of course, because the Cool Kids Campaign philosophy is that kids are kids, regardless of if they’re sick or healthy.

“Every kid wants to feel cool even if they don’t feel well,” said Perfetti. “As we decide how to help these kids and best use the donated dollars … we try to make them forget, at least for a little while, that they are fighting for their lives.”

The Cool Kids Campaign is ready to take the organization to its next level. Knowing that kids with cancer spend most days in treatment with one caregiver while missing out on socializing, and feel different due to hair loss and surgical masks, the Cool Kids Care Center will be developed, offering a sterile facility for kids and families where they can be tutored, play, receive support, socialize, and share with other families facing the same challenges.

“I can hear Dad saying to his teammates, ‘C’mon! We’re going to pump this thing up!’” said Rob Belanger. “He’d be completely in their faces, ‘Let’s raise money!’ I think he would have really loved the organization and what we are accomplishing.”

How fans can help …
Should readers wish to make a donation to further the mission of the Cool Kids Campaign, there are three ways to donate:

1. Checks payable and mailed to Cool Kids Campaign, 9711 Monroe Street, Cockeysville, MD 21030

2. Donate through your company’s United Way campaign with the designated number 1121030.

3. Stock Transfers are accepted and delivered through electronic transfer: DTC# 0141 – Brown Advisory; A/C# 1051-7540 in name of Belanger-Federico-Perfetti Foundation, Inc.

Before there was Ken

Clean confessions of a baseball-fan-turned-baseball-wife

As Ken and I celebrate our 18th year of marriage on October 11, I can’t help but remember once upon a baseball time in my pre-Ken Singleton days ….

? Once I made myself slurp down raw oysters – which I loathe – with Brooks Robinson at a museum fundraiser in Baltimore when I worked for a video production company. This was after I had interviewed him for his reaction about the fundraising party. I still hate raw oysters.

? Once I was a common fan in the upper deck of Memorial Stadium screaming along with the other 52,000 beer-filled fans … “C’mon Ken! Hit it in the bullpen!

? Once a friend, Bob, pretended he was Oriole Rich Dauer as we exited Memorial Stadium long after most fans had left. Those still waiting outside for players’ autographs surrounded him after another friend with our group had shouted, “Hey, it’s Rich Dauer!” Stupidly, Bob signed their programs and balls; to this day I cringe thinking how they believed his authenticity (or stupidity?) Please know I would never fake Ken’s signature on an autograph item (although I can script it perfectly).

? Once my friend dated the late Todd Cruz when he played for the Orioles. I was in awe (okay, jealous) of the fact that she had attracted a Major Leaguer.

? Once in my early 20s at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, a friend and I (in “happy” state), slid from the tippy-top to the very bottom of a long, smooth metal partition between the escalators. I sported the largest, deepest purplish bruise ever (top of left hip to outside of left knee) as my side thumped extremely hard against the bottom base. It’s a good thing I couldn’t feel much after that baseball game (and that I didn’t yet know Ken to have to explain the bruise!).

? Once during my lunch hour when I worked for a bank in downtown Baltimore, I stood in a long line to meet and greet Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. I didn’t want autographs, though; instead I asked each for a kiss. (And nowadays do not prefer when female autograph hounds manhandle my husband.)

? Once I chatted with Ripken Jr. at a nightclub called Christopher’s when he first played for the Orioles – before I knew him. Poor Cal now can’t step foot outside of his home without being barraged by fans.

? Once in 1985 when I worked in Employee Communications at Maryland National Bank, I interviewed Ken Singleton for our company newspaper when he played for the Orioles. I still have that edition of the paper, and the rest is history …

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