Ken is in “commute” mode this weekend, able to zip down I-83 to Camden Yards from our home in Baltimore County, instead of hopping a plane or train to meet up with the Yankees and the YES Network crew. Since he wore an Orioles uniform for 10 seasons (1975-1984), yet announces games for the pinstripes, fans generally think he must be “torn” between his allegiances. Mrs. Singy sat down with hubby to get the real score.
Mrs. Singy: What’s it like for you to announce a Yankees/Orioles game?
Ken Singleton: Much like all of the others, that’s the way I look at it. I approach it the same way. I think other people may look at it differently because I used to play for the Orioles and I’ve been with the Yankees so long. Maybe they think, “He must be torn.” I’m not really. I just do the games. And my job is easier when the Yankees win. I’ve been fortunate to see them win quite a bit.
Mrs. Singy: Would you prefer to announce a Yankees/Orioles game in Baltimore or New York?
Ken Singleton: Well I like doing Yankees games in Baltimore because I don’t have to travel far. I’ve lived here for about 35 years. But I really love the new Yankee Stadium. I don’t think there is a more exciting stadium in the Major Leagues in terms of the crowd, how they get into the team, and their knowledge of the game. Plus, New York is where I grew up [Mount Vernon]. I’ll always love New York.
Mrs. Singy: The Orioles network MASN usually show you on TV during an Orioles game in the YES Network booth – what do you think of that?
Ken Singleton: They do, so I heard, but I’m not aware of it during the game. Someone usually tells me that I was on. Hopefully, the guys are saying nice things about me. 🙂
Mrs. Singy: How do you think fans react to that at home – you working for the Yankees?
Ken Singleton: When I was announcing games for the Montreal Expos, fans in Baltimore didn’t seem to mind. Now that I do games for New York, at first they would ask, “How can you do that?” [Mrs. Singy hears this constantly!]. But I think now they understand better … I hope. The Yankees are good. They are a good team to work for.
Mrs. Singy: Does it bring back memories as a player when you announce in Baltimore, or not as much since you didn’t play at Camden Yards?
Ken Singleton: Not so much; only when I’m reminded by people who I might see around the stadium whom I’ve known over the years, like Jim Palmer, Mike Flanagan, and some of the ushers who have carried over from Memorial Stadium to Camden Yards. But that was a long time ago. Times change. Camden Yards has a different atmosphere than Memorial Stadium. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the Orioles were big winners in those days.
Mrs. Singy: What do you say when fans consistently ask why you don’t announce for your “home” team?
Ken Singleton: I consider myself a Yankees broadcaster; I work in New York. I’m very happy where I am. Who wouldn’t be happy working for a team that I have witnessed win the World Series four times? I’ve seen them in the playoffs 13 times in 14 years.
Mrs. Singy: What did you think of the NY Yankees when you were an Oriole?
Ken Singleton: Good question. I had a lot of respect for the Yankees. They were the team that we always tried to beat. As Orioles, we went to the World Series twice and I can recall in 10 years in Baltimore, we finished second, six times – some of those to the Yankees. They had great players: Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry, Catfish Hunter and Lou Piniella. George Steinbrenner was still the boss back then. I had a lot of respect for their organization.
Mrs. Singy: What are some of your standard responses to fans when they allude to the same questions like: “Do you still have orange and black running through your blood?” … “We need you back here” … “Why don’t you live in NY?” … “Do you miss playing?”
Ken Singleton: When they comment that they need me back, I say, “There was a time.” But those days are over. It’s very nice for people to remember, but the game goes on and the players change. About living in New York … that’s easy. All I have to do is get on a train and I’m there – it’s a simple commute. My kids grew up here in Baltimore, you [Mrs. Singy] are from here. I don’t miss playing, no. Like I said, those days are over. When you start as a player, you know you can’t play forever. I was blessed to have played for 15 years – 12 on winning teams. Fifteen years in the Majors is a good run. I earned a good living – still earn a good living. I’ve been in the Majors for over 40 years now.
Mrs. Singy: What do you think about the Orioles now?
Ken Singleton: I would like to see them play better, but not against the Yankees. They are showing signs of improvement with new manager Buck Showalter and it will make the division even more competitive next year.
People are funny without realizing it – and just a little transparent.
If you were married to a doctor, would you be expected to answer medical questions? If you lived with a singer, would people expect you to break out in song?
I don’t think so.
So why do people expect me to talk baseball? I’m a writer, not a baseball analyst. Sure, I can write about fluffy baseball topics, like spitting or a 101-year-old Yankee fans named Frank, but the stats, strategy and who’s returning to the lineup from the disabled list? That’s Ken’s department.
When he’s on the road and I’m home in Baltimore, say like at the supermarket or church, people see “Suzanne” but I know they’re thinking “Ken” because the baseball ramblin’ begins.
It’s Ken they really want when an Orioles fan approaches me with a comment that they want Ken back as a player. It’s Ken they want when they ask me if I think he will some day broadcast for his “home” team. It’s Ken they want when they ask what he thinks of a current hot baseball topic or if the Yankees will win the pennant (again); and it’s Ken they want when someone e-mails to say she has been thinking about me, yet her next sentence includes the word baseball. (Guess she didn’t want to admit she was thinking about my husband all along.)
Do I look like I’m 6-foot-4 with short black hair and a YES Network microphone in my hand?
It’s Ken they really want when I walk into a friend’s house for a cookout and her husband is looking behind me with the immediate question on his beer-stained lips – “Where’s Ken?” – like I’m hiding him in my handbag or something. (Takes me a minute to get the cities straight on any given day, but eventually I utter the Yankees’ locale.)
Now around the end of summer every baseball season, I get a little cranky. (Jeepers, can you tell?) Don’t get me wrong – I want the Yankees to keep winning and see the inside of their dugout in October, but I also want my husband to come home. I become weary of kissing him bye-bye as he boards a plane or hops a train. I grow tired of checking his schedule every time I need a date for a cookout or to see if he’s available for back-to-school night.
Yet mostly, I’m feeling a tad drained with people talking baseball – to me – when it’s Ken they really want.
Yes, people are funny. They can’t quite get the hang of baseball schedules either. In December someone will ask if Ken is on the road. My cousin has asked if he returns home on weekends. On a summer holiday they seem astonished that he isn’t around. “Oh, Ken didn’t get off for Labor Day?”
My standard answer is “Baseball knows no holiday or weekend.” (Or kids’ birthdays, friend’s wedding or move-in day for our kid’s college.)
Sometimes a kind baseball soul will ask if I’m ready for the season to be over. Thank you and yes I am.
But in general, I don’t wanna talk baseball. Especially in September. It makes me cranky.
My neighbor Annie emailed me about a “most delightful” scene she witnessed while shopping at a Publix grocery store in Hilton Head, S.C., where she has a vacation property. An announcement sounded over the store’s P.A. system about a customer’s birthday: Frank Ventre is 101 years old.
Annie said the Publix staff had thoughtfully prepared and presented a few small birthday gifts representing Frank’s interests, including orange cupcakes for Syracuse, N.Y., and a few blue and white goodies to delight him in his passion for the New York Yankees.
“Where else in the modern world on a busy Saturday afternoon would a food store go to such lengths for a regular customer?” said Annie.
While Frank was being presented with the Yankees gifts (one an autograph signed “To Frank”) the gentleman spoke in great lengths about the team’s 27 championships, what city they were playing in that day, and where they would be playing in upcoming away games. Frank knew his facts.
When he nostalgically mentioned how he wished he could again attend a game some day, but that “the tickets are too expensive,” Annie approached him. Without mentioning who her neighbor is, she said she might be able to help him grant his wish. That’s when she emailed me to ask Ken if it was possible to obtain tickets.
Frank is now making plans to attend the game against the Tampa Bay Rays July 17 in New York. Ken laughed just now glancing at the schedule while he double-checked the date for me. “Huh! How about that? It’s Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium.”
No pun intended, Frankie.
When Ken had relayed this story to the Yankees PR office, they sent Frank a letter inviting him onto the field before the game. His 68-year-old son will accompany him to the Big Apple and his daughter (who he lives with) is treating them to the airfare.
A little old-timer recognition can go a long way.
“Oh my, I can’t believe it!” Frank relayed to Annie who told me, “He is so very excited!” (If you knew Annie, you’d know how she gets big kicks out of helping people – strangers and friends. It’s just the way she’s wired … Angel Annie … one of the last of the good Samaritans.)
Healthy still at 101, Frank goes to the gym regularly. He uses the treadmill, stationary bike and free weights. He’s 100 percent Italian – a sweet, entertaining man, reports Annie about her new friend. And believe me, they will be Hilton Head Island friends for sure.
“Hats off to the Publix staff that took time and effort merely to be nice,” said Annie, “and to make an amazing old man feel very special.”
This, she said, was truly a great example of “publix” affection.
It’s 3 p.m. and the kiss on my cheek fades as Ken leaves for work, a seemingly simple gesture performed by countless spouses on an ordinary day.
The Yankees have come to us this time; a three-game stint in Baltimore during a few chilly spring days after their April 26 visit to the White House less than an hour south of Camden Yards.
We pretend for three days, Ken and I, that he has nothing more than a 30-minute commute into the city, leaving in the afternoon and returning after the household is snoring, once again planting a soft kiss on my cheek as I doze close to midnight.
“Did they win?” I mumble as I turn on my side, feeling disappointment that the Orioles managed to find a burst of energy to beat the Yankees in spite of Baltimore’s atrocious start to the season.
But we don’t get used to it – this ritual of the 3 p.m. kiss and commute. It’s just a tease and we know it. And not that Ken wishes to work for another team – he does not – what could possibly compare to the New York Yankees experience?
So just for three days we pretend that he doesn’t have to pack a bag, go on the road, hop a plane, hail a cab, commute by train, and exist as a dad and a husband through cell phones, texts and emails.
Yes, just for three glorious days, the Yankees come to him.
Ken and I had hopped up to Manhattan for the day on Saturday and after a yummy Italian lunch at Lattanzi on W. 46th St., we strolled to Rockefeller Center to see the world-famous Christmas tree.
What? Not decorated yet? (I’m from Baltimore, what do I know.) Instead the enormous tree was hidden behind sky-high scaffolding and word on the street was that it would light up on the day after Thanksgiving … but hello New Yorkers! Those of you who told us incorrectly will be standing there waiting for five days — the ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 2.
It was perfect, then, that Ken had been invited to the annual tree lighting ceremony at The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, which was “a huge success,” said Robert Heinisch, Vice President for Site Operations. “It was a thrilling event for the [approximate] 1,000 people that were present to witness the annual lighting of our trees.”
Collaboratively lighting the tree at the NY Botanical Garden Saturday was (l to r) Ken Singleton, Assemblyman Carle Heastie, Senator Jeff Klein, Senator Jose Serrano Jr. and Congressman Jose Serrano.
Garden staff member Gayle Schmidt, Manager of Public Education, coordinated the show. After a few words from Assemblyman Heastie and Senator Klein (who also lit the menorah), Ken had the podium and was greeted enthusiastically by many Yankees fans on the promenade, some who are members of the Botanical Garden and had turned out on Members Day & Community Holiday Open House to tour the 18th Annual Holiday Train Show.
Mr. Heinisch treated us as well to an exploration of the model train garden in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory with Yankees staff members Gina Chindemi, Senior Manager of Non-Baseball Events, and Tony Morante, Director of Stadium Tours and Team Historian. (Also on hand outside at the tree lighting was Robert Brown, Yankees Vice President and CFO, and Michael Margolis, Media Relations Manager.)
I sound like a commercial here, but if you have a chance between now and Jan. 10, skip over to the Bronx and see that illuminated lush train garden. Take the kids. Take the grandparents. It’s beautiful! Very well done. Who needs Rockefeller Center?
Inside a Victorian-style glasshouse, replicas of New York’s historic landmark buildings, including Yankee Stadium, were designed using all natural and plant materials such as grape leaves and orange peels. This year designer Paul Busse added Penn Station and the Brooks Brothers flagship store to the annual favorite displays such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and some of New York’s most treasured Hudson River mansions. Trains of all shapes and sizes — even a ladybug train — wind their way through the buildings and foliage.
We loved it. What a splendid way to infuse the beginning magic of the holiday season into our hearts. As Senator Klein said in his brief speech before assisting Ken and the others with the lighting of the trees, “If you don’t believe in miracles, you’re not a realist.”
For more details on the train garden and other features of the beautiful NY Botanical Garden, visit them online.
Everything in New York City seems to be done on a grander scale. The newspapers said an estimated two million people lined the streets to celebrate the Yankees’ World Series win. Two million!
We were just two people watching it on TV at home in Maryland, Ken and I.
“I enjoyed watching the city’s reaction to winning the championship,” said Ken, “because they haven’t had one in nine years. I also liked hearing what the players had to say, like CC Sabathia’s comment, ‘There’s nothing like winning in New York!'”
Ken is delighted for the players able to experience such a conquest in their first year with the Yankees, such as Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett.
No doubt watching the festivities elicited his own happy memories as a Baltimore Oriole during a victorious time in 1983 after the Birds had clinched the World Series (also upsetting the Phillies). Ken sat not on a float in Baltimore’s World Series parade but on the back of a convertible Oldsmobile with his family.
On a much smaller scale than the parade in New York, Ken remembers, “People got very close to the convertibles carrying the players. They were able to touch us – that wouldn’t happen nowadays. My two young boys were in the car. Justin [then age 4] didn’t like it. He said the fans were too close – it made him uncomfortable.”
In the throng of that boisterous scenario on “Oriole Boulevard” near Fayette Street, there was only one place for me to go for a better view – up.
My sister-in-law Susan and I braved the crowd in our Orioles caps and corporate clothes to watch the convoy (I’m on the right). Making sure no one could see under our skirts, we somehow climbed up onto a skinny piece of a wall and daringly hung on to a fence to afford us clearer glimpses of the titillating celebration over the hairy heads of the other million fans (or so it felt – I do not know the number).
Between us we held hand-to-hand with a small stuffed Oriole mascot while the ballplayers and their families shook hands, accepted pats on the backs, and grinned ear-to-ear in the hype of an overwhelming reception from the deafening massive crowd.
I was an average Orioles fan like the rest of the screaming people showing pride for our home team. Had someone told me that October day that one Mr. Ken Singleton passing by to the shouts of “Singy!” and “C’mon Ken hit it in the bullpen!” would one day be my husband, I would have laughed at the notion and probably fallen off the wall.
“It was fun,” said Ken, who remembers that people were hanging off street poles and out of office windows. At age 36 and ready to wrap up a long and productive baseball career, it had taken him 13 seasons before he had the opportunity to play on a World Championship team.
“Winning the Series was such a feeling of accomplishment,” he said. “For that particular season no team played better than us. We went down in history for champions of that year.”
Gleefully, the Orioles had returned to Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street by bus from Philly. Ken remembers that “the fans had been waiting for us – they were all over the place! In the parking lot and everywhere, in spite of it being close to midnight. There were so many people cheering us on, it was hard to drive through the streets.”
Since then, the Orioles have hosted several World Series Reunions at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, holding onto that precious era. Ken and many of his former teammates have been invited back to reminisce.
“I’m sure Cal Ripken thought he would be on many more championships teams,” said Ken. Cal was then in his second season as an Oriole. “But it never happened again. It’s been 26 years.”
Hubby wears his World Series ring proudly and often. “Winning was the culmination of a good year,” he said.
I don’t want to live in Baltimore this week. I want to wake up in the city that never sleeps … even though my beauty sleep has been compromised trying to squeeze in these Yankees games.
We’re asked all the time about why we live here in Maryland if Ken announces for the Yankees. If someone asked me that question this week, I’d say, “How I wish we did live in New York!”
It’s been tortuous for the kids and me unable to physically attend the thrilling playoffs and World Series games – bummer. But alas, school dictates our schedule whether we’re a baseball family or not, so we’re forced to stay home. (Who invented school anyhow?)
It’s been worse for the kids, ages 13 and 17, because they don’t get to watch the end of the games since I make them go to bed, so they’re not too tired to get up for school. In their shared bathroom, I tape a little “Yankee Report” to the mirror so they can learn the score and the outcome as soon as they awaken.
Like many of you Yankees fans who are parents and/or work full-time, we all still have to get up early and scoot the kids out the door whether baseball season thinks it’s still summer or not. (Can you believe it’s November 3 and baseball is still on and hubby is not home yet?)
Watching the games at home isn’t nearly as amusing as being in Yankee Stadium. There’s no cotton candy vendor. No fun graphics on the big screen. No cheering alongside at deafening tones with everyone else wearing assorted Yankees hats, giving high-fives to perfect strangers when the Yankees score.
Maybe at least if I had a few New York friends here in Baltimore, I could invite them over for the final game or venture out to a sports bar with 12 HD-TVs and cheer aloud in something other than my pajamas.
I told Ken I felt sorry for him, John Flaherty and Bob Lorenz reporting on the Yankees from the studio – they’re not allowed to watch the game in person either.
At least I have these little individual packs of salted peanuts in the pantry.
LET’S GO Y-A-N-K-E-E-S! I need a little sleep.
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.
When 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.”
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.
I 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!
Waiting for a flight to Boston out of Baltimore earlier this summer, a Mark Teixeira-jerseyed guy approached Ken and I in the airport restaurant to meet and greet.
His name was Mike and he was headed on his honeymoon from Auburn, N.Y., along with his new bride Erin – a bridal corsage pinned to her shirt. The lovebirds asked for an autograph and photo of Ken, which I clicked of the three of them, and they went merrily on their way after sending us a complimentary beverage in appreciation.
Always Yankees connected.
An October ago in Venice, Ken and I stumbled across a kiosk of NYY caps of various colors – pink, red, white. NYY caps in Italy? Why not? Yankees fans travel, too. They’re everywhere, with a few recognizing Ken as we walked the promenade along the canal.
“What are you doing here, Ken Singleton?” a guy called out.
Using his standard answer to that question, Ken laughed and said, “Everyone has to be somewhere.”
Always Yankees connected.
And if there weren’t Yankees fans in Italy before we got there, we made some. Thanks to the kindness of Connie Schwab of Media Relations in the Yankees office, who provided us with a load of Yankees merchandise to take along to my cousins in Sardinia, Ken and I doled out hats, pens, and key chains and left a NY logo mark around the old village. The below photo is my cousin Tina in a tiny old village in Sardinia, Italy.
Always thinking Yankees.
Riding home from Pennsylvania after a family birthday celebration, Ken turned on the radio and the voices of Suzyn Waldman and John Sterling erupted loudly and clearly from station 880 AM … all the way to Baltimore.
Always Yankees connected.
When that signal went staticky, Ken flipped open his iPhone, touch-screened a few buttons, and wa-la … the YES Network sounded over the internet. Had we been home, the Yankees would have been making plays right in our living room on that impeccable hi-def image which shows every whisker on a player’s face. Had Ken not been home, we can still watch him announcing games … ahhh, the beauty of a Direct TV baseball package.
Always Yankees connected.