Results tagged ‘ Montreal Expos ’

Ken was in the lineup

People ask often how Ken and I met, so I may as well tell the story here, too. How Mr. and Mrs. Singy ended up in the same life is accredited to my 9-to-5 corporate days as a communications officer for a bank where I was editor of publications.

After Ken retired as a player, he had signed on with the bank as a spokesman for a product called “The Lineup,” which tied in neatly with a baseball theme. He made appearances at bank branches, taped a TV commercial with the late Clara Peller of “Where’s the beef?” fame, and allowed our department to interview him for a 1985 issue of RECAP, the bank’s newspaper (I still have it).

I remember being somewhat nervous – more excited actually – to meet a real live Baltimore Oriole the morning he stepped into my small lamp-lit office in downtown Baltimore. Yet he quickly placed me at ease with his congeniality and easy smile.

Ken had moved on to his second career, broadcasting games for TSN (The Sports Network) in Canada, which produced games for the Montreal Expos and the Toronto Blue Jays, among others; he also anchored sports on the weekends for a Baltimore TV station.

“I enjoy it,” he had said about being behind a microphone instead of behind home plate. “I’m comfortable since I’m talking about something I’ve been doing my whole life.”

On the topic of retiring from baseball, Ken explained it like this, “There are different stages to an athlete’s career. When you make it to the Majors, you make it on talent alone. You have the ability, but the talent and experience aren’t mixed together. The longer you stay, the more the experience blends with the talent. In my case I was a good player, but I wasn’t overly talented. As you get older, the talent decreases, then it gets to the point when the talent is almost gone and you rely solely on experience – which is not good enough. That’s the point I reached.”

The interview goes on for a long page after that (and how I wish I could edit my young green writing) with questions such as “What career would you have pursued if not baseball? (teaching) … “Would you like to manage?” (no) … “Who was your idol in baseball?” (Willie Mays) and other topics.

Our department then began to produce news videos for the branches and satellite offices, and we had invited Ken to host them; I was chosen as co-host (and I still have the videos, too, but I swear I’m not a packrat).

While sitting around waiting for the crew to set up shots, lighting, sound, and make script changes, Ken and I chatted off-camera, and a friendship began. Occasionally he would phone me at work for a chat, or we would meet downtown for a meal, still as friends. I had a stuffy bow-tied banker boyfriend at the time; and neither of us looked at the friendship as anything more.

After resigning from the bank in 1989, I freelanced as a communications/events specialist and was hired to help plan a treasure hunt fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The event called for local celebrities to present clues to the contestants, posted around various departments of Saks Fifth Avenue in Baltimore where the event was staged.

I had invited Ken to participate, and because my frugal boyfriend chose not to attend, Ken and I went together. There was a magical kiss on the escalator at the end of the black-tie evening, eventually I broke up with the banker and hung out with Ken more.

The next summer while renting a house with a roommate, the landlord decided to sell it. We approached our friend Ken with the idea to housesit for him while he worked on the road for Expos radio. He agreed, and we moved in to what was supposed to be a temporary situation. At the end of the baseball season the roommate left, I stayed, and became Mrs. Singy the following October ’91.

And they lived baseball ever after …

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.

There will be no crying over the start of the season

By Mrs. Singy

singies.jpgOne would think in 18 years of facing the start of another long baseball season – a wife might become accustomed to the idea of a baseball hubby leaving home. Not so.

Every year I cry on the day Ken first leaves on a plane to Tampa to catch up with the Yankees already in progress. He attends production meetings, announces a few games, receives media credentials, grabs a pile of press guides, and may practice pitching a bucket of golf balls while warm weather is in his favor.

Here we go again … baseball season is here.

I cried over our daughter’s raisin toast that morning, waking up to a half-empty bed occupied several hours before by Ken’s warm 6-foot-4 body (can you hear the violin?).
I remember he had kissed my cheek at 5:30 a.m. before departing for the airport.

“What’s wrong, Mom?” asked our 12-year-old.

“Nothing,” I said. Sniff. She stared at me as I stirred my coffee. “Okay … I don’t like when Daddy leaves. I miss him already.”

I forced myself to stop crying lest I get her started – she had school on which to focus (and I don’t like my kids thinking I’m a big sissy, because I’m not). So we moved along with our day … quick coffee with a friend to whine that Ken left, visit to the health club, and back to my home office to write.

Then his first road trip happens – this year April 16 as the new stadium opened –
and we were fortunate to be able to join him in the festivities and a few days walking the city, but then the kids’ school schedule dictates we return to Baltimore while Ken stayed another week in New York.

Maybe the tears went deeper; they may have been also for the fact that when the kids were younger, we accompanied Ken to Spring Training – we lived in Florida for a month. That was the days of West Palm Beach with the Montreal Expos who paid most of the rental price for beautiful condos on the golf course or the beach. Nice, very nice, and particularly welcoming when northerly winds howled in Maryland and our friends and family were donning gloves, scarves, and boots.

No matter how glamorous people believe Ken’s job is, the reality of it is that his schedule is challenging for family life. His absence creates one less plate on the dinner table. We miss him. And he misses a lot of family life.

The death of the offseason takes a slight adjustment on all of our parts. Specifically mine. Ken is a fantastic and functional house husband in the offseason. Now who will grocery shop, make the beds, and cook spaghetti for dinner while I write?

No wonder I’m crying.

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