By Steven Vaccaro
“Having been born and raised in Mt. Vernon, New York, I feel so bad with what the world is going through, especially New Yorkers and all the communities that are in the Bronx around Yankee Stadium,” revealed a saddened Ken Singleton, a former Major leaguer and current Yankee Broadcaster. “I have been with the Yankees for 25 years, so my relationship with the Bronx is very strong and not being able to be there and seeing the fans is sad. What they are going through during this pandemic and socially challenging times is thoroughly heartbreaking,” Singleton said via a telephone interview from his Maryland home.
Singleton is currently a commentator for the New York Yankees on the YES Network and WPIX 11, serving as both color commentator and play-by-play announcer. He also worked as an announcer for Yankee games on MSG Network, before the inception of YES and joined the Yankees broadcasting team in 1997. Due to his need to be with his family, this proud grandfather, decided to retire from the booth in 2018 but then decided to postpone his retirement in 2019. However, due to the global pandemic, Singleton may decide to remain in the booth for 2021. “I may want to return…I do not want to go out like this not having direct contact with the loyal Yankee fans, Singleton said.
Singleton, who played with the New York Mets(1970-1971), Montreal Expos(1972-1974) and Baltimore Orioles(1975-1984) over his career, finished with a career batting average of .282, 246 HR’s, 1,065 RBI’s and 2,029 hits was a 3-time All-Star (1977,1979,1981), World Series Champion(1983) and was inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame.
However, it was the Roberto Clemente Award that he won in 1982 that he is most proud of. Singleton said,” The Roberto Clemente Award is a Community Award and represents the amazing character of a man that unconditionally gave back to communities around the world. That award is sitting proudly in my home.” Singleton, went on to say,” I played in Winter ball early in my career and Clemente was my manager. His belief in me and his knowledge of the game significantly impacted my entire professional career. He would have been a tremendous manager.”
Singleton began to discuss his observations of Yankee Community Consultant Ray Negron’s community work. “Ray, has the biggest heart ever. To see him help his Bronx community since the beginning of this devastating pandemic reminds me of all the good in the world. Ray is always around kids. He will always pop in the broadcast booth during games with children so they can take a picture with Michael Kay, David Cone, Paul O’Neil or myself. To see the smiles on their faces is heartwarming.”
When he was asked to share his thoughts about several Yankees/Orioles he did so graciously.
George Steinbrenner: “I am forever honored to have worked for him. As an opposing player and native New Yorker, he would always greet me. In addition, without my prompting or knowledge, he would secure box seats right over the Orioles’ Dugout at Yankee Stadium for my parents who lived in NY. So every time I would run into the dugout from right field or after an at-Bat, my parents would show their love for me only several feet away. Simply amazing.”
Billy Martin: “Several weeks before the 1977 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, the Orioles were playing the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. As the Orioles were taking batting practice and I was standing in right field shagging batted balls. I noticed Billy Martin come out of the Yankee dugout and begin to walk towards me. Since the Yankees were in the 1976 World Series, Martin would be the American league All-Star game manager. As he approached me, he said hello. He then looked directly into my eyes and said that he wanted me to be with him as an All-Star. It was a brief tender moment from a managerial legend.”
Thurman Munson: “ After I would get a hit or hit a HR, Thurman would talk to me from his crouched position behind home plate when I returned to the plate and say in a very competitive manner that it was a good hit but do not expect that again. We would briefly laugh between pitches.”
Paul Blair: “Paul was the greatest centerfielder that I have ever played with. No one had ever hit a ball over his head. A true gentleman who would always help others. In fact, the very day of his passing, he attended two fundraisers to help others…… a golf outing during the day and a bowling event at night.” I miss him so much.”
Elrod Hendricks: “Elrod would tell stories all the time and put smiles on everyone. He was an amazing human being. His nickname was “Stories” clearly honoring his legacy. I miss him terribly as well.”
As our one hour conversation was coming to a close, Singleton wanted to share some thoughts. “Its all about family. I just came from an indoor baseball practice for my 11-year old grandson. Along with his father, we were there together sharing our knowledge and love of the game with him and his teammates. That my friend, is the true meaning of life. My thoughts and prayers go out to all New Yorkers that are suffering. Together we will overcome.”
This Monday on BRONXNET’s number one rated show, “REACH OUT WITH RAY AND STEVE,” Ken Singleton will join the show, along with Adam Ottavino, Jerry Vivino and Eliezer Rodriguez.