Move over Joyce’s Coconut Macaroons, the Singletons have received a new contender for the most unique item included in Ken’s fan mail — three cans of reindeer and elk meat from Horsholm, Denmark.
Former New Yorker Larry Landman included a neatly-typed letter pointing out that during the playoffs last season, Ken had thanked fans on the East Coast for staying up late to watch the Yanks play on the West Coast, but had inadvertently omitted the fans outside of Copenhagen who were watching the next day via the Internet.
“We did not stay up late, that’s true,” wrote Larry, “but we were rooting for the Yankees as strongly as anyone. We thank you and your fellow broadcasters on TV and radio for giving us a little taste of home while we live abroad. Given the beauty — the absolute beauty — of condensed [Internet] games, we have seen more Yankees games the last few years than while growing up and living in New York.”
Ken was awed as he studied the letter and three cans sitting on the kitchen island. “I didn’t know people in Europe were watching!”
We were all too curious to see what reindeer meat looked like, so our 17-year-old son bee-lined for the can opener. But who would be brave enough to taste it?
Six-foot-three teenage boys eat anything, so no surprise that Dante volunteered. And since I had tasted reindeer sausage once on a cruise through Alaska — and lived to tell about it — I fished two forks out of the utensil drawer.
“Is it cooked?” I asked, staring at the blob of raw-looking red meat peeking from under the jagged lid. “Read the label.”
The majority was written in Danish except for the ingredients — and we had already used our imagination for that. We each stabbed a tiny forkful.
“It tastes like um … um … um,” said Dante.
“Chicken?” I joked.
“No, I can’t put my finger on it,” he said, “but I’m not crazy about the aftertaste.”
Ken put no fingers or taste on any of the reindeer meat. “I’ll give you 24 hours,” he laughed. “If nothing happens to you, I’ll taste it.”
As a group of friends were scheduled to come to our home that Friday evening, Ken had a bit more fun with the topic. “Make an hors d’oeuvre out of it,” he suggested. “Think our friends would know?”
Oh dear Larry Landman, we apologize for the jokes, but please understand that reindeer meat is a new concept for the Singletons. We eat seafood in Maryland!
All joshing aside, we were touched by Larry’s gift and laminated letter, especially the last sentence, a request that Ken enjoy the delicacy during Spring Training with fellow broadcasters: “Open a bottle of red wine and say a toast in memory of Bobby Murcer, and particularly Phil Rizzuto, whose admonition that one should not try to hit a home run, just a single, applies far, far beyond baseball.”
On the night before Eddie Murray’s wedding
Picking Maryland steamed crabs is a messy endeavor. You either know how to do it or you don’t. So only veteran crab eaters would think it odd wearing surgical gloves while eating crabs. In California no less. Yet this is what a small group of friends did on the night before Janice & Eddie Murray’s wedding at the condo of Brady Anderson and Rene Gonzales, both former Orioles.
I had flown out to California with my friend Diane Hock to attend the Murray wedding, and she had promised steamed crabs to Brady, Rene and friends. After carting them to the airport in a big box packed with dry ice, Diane successfully delivered the seafood securely to the dining room table in Huntington Beach where the Californians gobbled garishly with nary a spec of Old Bay on anyone’s fingers. When folks began to snap on white surgical gloves to operate on the crustaceans, I almost spit out a mouthful of Coors Light. Indeed, a funny sight to behold.
Yet not as funny as the little trick played on me the next day at the wedding. Some guy convinced me to ask a sturdy man at the next table for an autograph, claiming it was Barry Bonds. So I did.
“I’m not Barry Bonds,” the guy answered.
“Very sorry to have bothered you,” I said red-faced with a squint in the trickster’s direction. “Excuse me, I need to go visit someone who gave me the wrong information.”
I’ve never repeated that mistake. At least I knew what Eddie looked like.
The Murray wedding was a splendid event. I remember lots of balloons decorating the hall and lots of Eddie’s siblings (he has 11). Somewhere on a VHS tape in the Murray house is a long silly rhyming verse, which a small group of us had concocted as our congratulatory message for the new bride and groom. High on wine and the ambiance of marital bliss, we giggled hysterically during its’ performance. Seventeen years later, I am confident in saying that it was probably rather dumb. Well, we had amused ourselves in the creative process at least.
“I absolutely remember the video you guys made,” said Janice, “and I thought it was great … a window into Eddie’s friends I would come to inherit.”
Post reception, we had been invited back to the Murrays for a party in Santa Clarita. This stands as the single most gigantic house I have ever stepped into and probably ever will – a Swiss Chalet style house that could have been featured in a celebrity homes’ magazine: a ridiculous amount of bathrooms (11 – did he build one for each sibling?) and bedrooms (9), a wine cellar, a bridal suite, nine-car garage, an elevator, a cave room, an adorable girl’s room with a ladder leading up to a loft, a to-die-for kitchen that went on forever, and a long rec room with Eddie’s collection of baseball hats and a billiards table.
Even the glass and wood design of the front door was beautiful! The square footage went on for miles, but sadly my memory does not, or I could describe it in greater detail. In a 35′ deep lake out front – stocked with large fish – a beautiful swan paddled around softly (or did I dream it?) and peacocks wandered the grounds.
Ken and I had visited the Murrays’ home one other time, after a Dodgers-Expos game. We followed them home for a visit, and upon leaving, shook our heads in awe all the way back to Baltimore. The Murrays have since moved from that gorgeous home, yet still reside in California. We wish we could see them more than we do, which is not often.
Ken and Eddie have bumped into each other over the years at various stadiums, and sometimes the Murrays will fly back east periodically to attend an Orioles-related functions – and yes, to eat Maryland steamed crabs.