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Monday, June 6, 2011

THE JOY OF KEN SINGLETON

When I think of Ken Singleton, I don't think of him as a great Yankees broadcaster as much as I think of him as a Baltimore Oriole first. Why do I sound so harsh you ask? Because when I think about my childhood and baseball card collecting, Ken Singleton is the first person that comes to mind. See, Singleton was the card I would get every year in literally every pack of cards. In the 80's it was overwhelming. I'd always get about 200 of him each year. I couldn’t give that card away. Meanwhile, all I wanted was a nice Mattingly rookie card of a Dave Winfield.

(In Photo: 1984 Topps Card)

My point is, when he first started broadcasting for the Yankees, I immediately assumed it wouldn't work out, kind of like Charley Steiner. But I was wrong and right now, there is something I need to confess... I think I like having Ken Singleton in the booth. Sad but true. He’s a poor man’s Phil Rizzuto in my opinion. Why? Because some of the things he does is great entertainment, that's why. Look, there's no question Kenny knows the game of baseball, he's a pro at that, but the stories he tells and the catch phrases he's still trying to get people to "catch on" to make me laugh, because Kenny's funny. I don't think he means to be funny, but he is.

Take the home run call for instance. "This ball is gone!" Ok, it's simple, right? But now, I expect it every time and I like it. It's comforting to me. Sterling's call is "mmmm It is high, it is far, it is gooonnneee (throat breaks up here.)" Obnoxious doesn't begin to describe it. Now in fairness to Sterling, that home run call is now a staple in Yankee baseball so, it belongs, but I'm kind of moving away from it for a more soothing "This ball is gone!" call, just enough to let me know..."Well, that's a homer."

The next part of Kenny is simple…he's pure entertainment. I say that because I've noticed something funny happen when Kenny's in the booth. For example, sometimes pitchers will pitch the ball inside on a batter and sometimes it looks like it’s coming in tight but it’s actually about 3 feet away from the batter. Suddenly you hear “Look out!” Singleton shouts it like it's going for the guys head, yet, it hits the catcher's mitt. At that moment I usually sit there stunned for a few moments and then I just laugh. “Is he kidding?” I think. Not even close. Then we move on. Why does he do that? Not sure, unless he just doesn't have a good view, but who knows? It is pure comedy to me.

Thirdly, are the stories about former players, or should one former player. Ken Singleton tells alot of stories but they usually all surround another former Baltimore Oriole and New York Yankee...Paul Blair. (Paul Blair was #2 for the Yankees, that is freakin' crazy, is it not?) Now, I don't know why, but Ken Singleton has a fascination with Paul Blair and I get a huge kick out of it. Kenny talks a lot about how Paul and he played together in Baltimore and then he goes on a rant about how Paul Blair is the greatest outfielder of all time and how close they were and how much fun they had playing together... you know the drill. Now, I must have heard Paul Blair’s name mentioned during games over 100 times since Singleton’s been calling the Yankee games and you have too, you probably just didn't notice. I'm a baseball nerd, I notice. (In Photo: Paul Blair)

So I became curious. I thought "Man, Kenny and Paul must have played at least 10 years together in Baltimore. Let me check it out." I did. I researched it man was I surprised. Why? Because Paul Blair played for the Orioles from 1964 to 1976. Kenny came from the Expos after the 1974 season and played in Baltimore from 1975 to 1984. (In Photo: Ken Singleton)

Kenny and Paul played together for only 2 years. 2 YEARS. Weird right? The way Kenny talks about Paul Blair, you'd think they were twins and played together for 15 years or something.

Now look, I’m not saying Ken Singleton’s a liar, I'm just loving the way stories are fabricated in the broadcast booth, that's all. Look, Kenny and Paul may have turned into best friends after those 2 years in the 70's, who knows, I just found it really funny that it was implied that they had a long career together during those Baltimore days.

I also looked for a picture of he and Blair so I could illustrate this post. Guess what? I couldn't find one from those days. I did however find a more recent one of he, Blair and Jim Palmer, check it out.

Look, this isn't a hit piece against Ken Singleton. I really enjoy Ken Singleton. All I'm saying is he's a great broadcaster for the new York Yankees, he didn't play long with Paul Blair and he's damn entertaining in the broadcast booth. Thank you Kenny, keep up the great work!

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