Results tagged ‘ Eddie Murray ’

When teammates call, they come running

Ken-Singleton-275.jpgUtter the words golf tournament and some former Major Leaguers will show up with their clubs. Mention the phrase “kids with cancer” and teammates come running in bunches. On Monday, Ken, seen here with Paul Blair and Jim Palmer, hosted the Ken Singleton Celebrity Golf Classic in which he had invited former teammates and others to play for this Cool Kids Campaign fundraiser, of which Ken serves on its board.

This young but amazingly strong organization here in Baltimore assists kids and their families with cancer as they muddle through horrifically challenging months — sometimes years — of treatments, surgeries, hospitals, financial setbacks and watching their “babies” become bald, feel ill and endure this crappy disease.

Mrs.-Singy-325.jpgThe impressive celebrity list featured Hall of Famers Palmer, Eddie Murray, Gary Carter and a Brooks Robinson stop-by. Other former Orioles — Ken’s friends — committed their time as well: Tippy Martinez, Blair, Boog Powell (pictured with Mrs. Singy), Rick Dempsey, Bobby Floyd, Bobby Grich, Steve Rogers, Dick Hall and Joe Orsulak, among other retired players, TV hosts and entertainers.

Other celebs on the links included Dancing With The Stars’ Tony Dovolani; NBA’s Jack Marin; and NFL’s Victor Green, Lydell Mitchell and Bruce Laird. Tom Matte also stopped by afterwards.

When Ken’s friends call him to participate in one of their causes, he doesn’t bat an eye — he goes. This time when Ken did the inviting, they came.

“When we were playing,” said Ken, “we all had each other’s backs … it’s nice to know we still do.”

These guys played in an era when Major Leaguers stayed in one town, performed for one team and bonded with each other in dugouts around the country. Lifelong friendships were formed.

mac2.jpgAfter this tournament, Ken’s teammates went home with more than a tote bag silk-screened with “Ken Singleton Celebrity Golf Classic.” They took with them an image of one pre-teen girl riding around in 90-plus degree weather to greet the golfers in a festively decorated golf cart. Her face is swollen from medication; her disposition sweet. MacKenzie Stuck is rounding third base with a brain tumor (as in three times it has returned) with nothing more that docs can do for her.
 
Her mother was barely audible through tears as she spoke to the golfers at a pre-tournament dinner the evening before.

So yes, mention the words golf tournament and a group of jocks will show up. Yet it’s for a better reason than chasing a miniature white ball around 18 holes. They call on each other and they come running … in friendship … and in support of a cause.

This time it was for the kids.

* * * * * * * *

When fans write to Ken requesting autographs, he asks them to consider a donation of at least one dollar per autograph to Cool Kids Campaign. Many fans generously donate more. If you feel so inclined, please consider mailing a donation of any amount to:

Cool Kids Campaign
9711 Monroe Street
Cockeysville MD 21030
www.cancerfearsme.org

A Maryland crab feast in California

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.

Imurraywedding_250.jpg 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.

Oh. Oops.

“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.

murraywedding_350.jpgThe 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.

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 …

Fanatic fans … nice or obnoxious?

ripken_275_092809.jpg(Previously published in The Baltimore Examiner)
You spot him walking down the street like the average Joe, except his name is Cal, as in Cal Ripken Jr. You can’t believe your good fortune in spotting a sports celebrity, or your chump luck that you’re without a baseball. You nudge your kid, “See who’s over there?” as you frantically search for a scrap of paper. You must act fast or he’ll get away.

But how to grab Cal’s attention? You want that autograph! Should you touch his arm? Call his name? Offer a handshake? A tongue-tied oaf with four thumbs stands in your place, confidence transformed, unable to contain his exhilaration in the same breathing space as a Hall of Famer.

Ripken said plenty of fans fumble their words out of nervousness. It amuses him when he hears, “You’re my biggest fan,” when someone means the opposite. Once he calms them with his gentle demeanor, they usually express themselves more clearly.

What’s the best way to approach a player? Most people react without thinking, said Sandy Unitas, wife of the late Johnny U.

“We’d be sitting there [in a restaurant] and someone would obviously recognize him,” said Unitas, “Then right when they served John his food, a fan would decide to approach him.”

Her tip to the knack of celebrity-approaching is to consider the situation. Where he is? How is he engaged?

“Wait until an approachable time,” she said, “don’t just run up and start talking, ‘Oh my, he’s Johnny Unitas!’ and interrupt what’s going on. Be considerate of the people he’s with.”

Unitas said her husband became a tad annoyed when a fan approached him during their kids’ sporting events. “He was there as a father,” she said, “not as a celebrity. He didn’t like anyone talking to him while he was watching a game, including me!”

Fans may claim the attention comes with the territory, yet any territory has its boundaries. And fans sometimes can cross the line … such as when Ken Singleton was asked for an autograph by a hospital staff member while his wife was in labor.

Living close to Los Angeles, Janice Murray, wife of former Oriole Eddie, said so many stars and athletes are in sight, most people don’t give them the time of day. “It’s great out here. No one bothers him. He can even go to get groceries.”

Yet one “how not to approach” incident stands out in her memory. She and Eddie were leaving a game, and “a woman wanted Eddie’s photo,” said Murray. “She shooed me out of the way and said, ‘Oh no, not you, honey.’ That was kind of rude. There was a different way to do that. Maybe if that lady had been nicer, I would have offered to take the picture.”

Murray has witnessed women asking her husband to sign their T-shirts, maybe a tad too close to their you-know-whats.

There are many good stories, too. “The kids are polite,” she said, mimicking, ‘Mr. Murray? Could I have your autograph, please?’ That’s no problem. Adults are the ones.”

Her advice is to assess the situation, take into account people they’re with and what they’re going through (maybe rushing through an airport). Is it the appropriate time to interrupt them?

Brooks Robinson said 99 percent of the people he encounters are “wonderful” and respect his privacy. “I’ve always enjoyed people. I accept it; it’s part of the deal.” His wife Connie has patience with fans as well, he said.

Most are timid in approaching the third-base golden glove, yet he admitted an admirer occasionally may cross the line. “Sitting on the airplane, some guy wanted to bend my ear between Baltimore and Los Angeles … he wanted to talk and talk and talk and I couldn’t get rid of him. Connie was with me.”

Then there’s the restaurant fan who talks for 20 minutes while the Robinsons are eating. “That’s crossing the line,” he said. “But I’ve been around for so long, I can spot someone who wants an autograph. Some look at me and say, ‘You’re Johnny Unitas!'”
 
He shared Unitas’ story about a guy in a bar who knew Unitas was an athlete, but was incorrect with the name. “You’re Brooks Robinson,” he insisted repeatedly. Unitas had to pull out his billfold to prove otherwise.
 

A bag of balls

baseballs_250.jpgMrsSingy@suzannesingleton.com
When people and organizations ask Ken for an autographed baseball, I politely inform them that we don’t currently own a warehouse of sporting equipment (see “The Singletons are fresh out of autograph items“) yet if they provide a ball, Ken will be happy to sign it.

With certain situations that tug at my heartstrings, however, I’m a little more lenient, so once in a while I scurry around the house in search of a blank baseball to stick under Ken’s nose to sign.

There aren’t many – blank ones, that is. On the last go-round, I stopped upstairs in Ken’s office at a red felt, almost-Santa-like bag filled with over 40 autographed baseballs. One of these days I should buy him a shelf or display case because the baseballs – or rather what’s on them – are fairly impressive even to my amateur eyes.

I wish some of these guys had had better handwriting for me to report what names are on the balls! Ken, without a doubt, could sit here and relay a zillion stories behind each in his collection.

Alas, this is what I see:

? Rawlings official ball of the 1983 World Series signed “To Matthew, Good Luck, Pete Rose.” Unfortunately, our son Matthew, in a creative mood as a kid, tried to decorate the ball further using small rubber stamps so Pete’s scribble has a little company.

? On another ball, Ken’s handwriting reads: “RBI #100 and 101, 8/30/79 vs. Twins in Baltimore”

? “1,000 Major League Hit, pitcher Jim Slaton, Milwaukee vs. Baltimore 7/25/77″

? “First A.L. Grand Slam 5/22/76, 8-4 win over Tigers”

? “1st American League homerun, donated by Jim Perry 4/27/75″

? “Homerun off Juan Marichal 6/13/71″

? “Homerun #23, R.B.I. #100, 9/23/73″

? “RBI #1000 & 1001, homerun Chicago, 8/11/83″

? “9th Consecutive Hit, a club record, 4/28/81″

? “Career Homerun #200, 4/26/81″

? “Hit #1,500 at Baltimore vs. Chicago, double, 1st inning, 8/6/80″

? “American & National 1979 Japan Major League Series”

?  “N.Y. METS” with a ball full of faded autographs

? official league ball with Montreal Expos logo and various signatures

?  “To Matthew & Justin, Al Bumbry, Padres #4, 1985″ (Al is still one of Ken’s good friends; he lives in Baltimore, too)

? “50th All-Star Game” ball

? official ball of 1981 All-Star Game with various signatures

? baseball stamped with “Liga de Baseball Profesional de Puerto Rico”

? many other autographs too numerous to list, however, legible names include Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jim Palmer and many others

One lone autographed ball not in the red bag with the others, sits amid Ken’s papers and baseball books on his desk. It has one signature – Hank Aaron.

Proud in the press box

kenbooth_400.jpgIf I had my way in the bottom of the eighth inning, I’d stay in my seat. The kids, however, drag me upstairs to the press box to see “Dad” in live YES Network TV action.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m always proud of hubby watching him in the booth – he’s happiest around baseball. Yet I feel we are just in the way of everyone doing their jobs, even though the TV crews are extremely accommodating and friendly (they give us free water bottles).

It’s been fun over the years talking my way up to the press level. No one in 18 years has ever asked to see my ID in any ballpark in America or upon driving into any stadium parking lot. Seems they believe a mom with two kids in tow claiming she’s Mrs. Ken Singleton is telling the truth.

Basically though, standing in the booth would be equivalent to you going to your spouse’s job and watching him or her work. It would be like Ken standing over my shoulder right now in my office as I write.

Although the TV experience is a bit more commonplace for me because I’ve been around it so long, when we bring along family members or friends, it’s refreshing to watch them get fired up experiencing live television up close and personal, and meeting other sports celebs who may happen to walk past.

I’m tickled our kids have the chance to see Dad at work, because being that he was retired from the Major Leagues well before they were a glint in his eye, our youngest son and daughter have been attuned only to Ken’s second career. They witness behind the baseball scene, whereas Singleton boys No. 1 and No. 2 as youngsters were closer to the field (at times on the field!), able to see Daddy play the game, hang out in the dugout during batting practice and high-five all the players.

Their experience was different being up close and personal with pros like Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer and many other Hall of Famers and Major Leaguers.

Wherever Ken has worked – on the field or in the press box – has always made his family proud to stand behind him. 

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