An interview with Ken Singleton

Yanks no match for A's; drop series opener 6-4
2013 Draft: Yankees sign first rounder Eric Jagielo

Ken Singletons

You may have seen him play back in the ’70s or early 80’s. Chances are, you most certainly have heard him on the YES network. Please welcome Ken Singleton!

Matt Warden: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me! I know everyone here at River Ave Blues will be thrilled!

Ken Singleton: Sure thing. I always enjoy talking baseball.

MW: Alright, great, let’s get started with this. I was checking out some of your career stats on Baseball-Reference.com. I noticed you spent time with the Mets, Expos, and Orioles. One team was conspicuously not on that list. How’d you wind up announcing for the Yankees?

KS: That’s a very interesting question. I was working with the Expos doing their radio and TV games. Mike McCarthy was the executive producer for the Yankees on MSG. I noticed that whenever we came to NY, he would sit in the back of the booth and not say very much. When the time came for me to leave the Expos he wanted me to work for MSG.

He paired me with Jim Kaat. We were supposed to do a demo tape of three innings of the World Series. After about one inning, he said that was enough and that we were a perfect fit, so he had to pitch it to George Steinbrenner down in Tampa. When I met George, I would say he wasn’t completely enthusiastic about the idea since I had never played for the Yankees. I remember his own words were, “Our fans aren’t going to like you because of all the bad things you used to do to us.” [Laughs] I explained to him I was only doing my job and he responded that I had done it very well which I took as a compliment. But I still wasn’t sure.

I went home to talk to my wife about the interview. One thing that George knew though, was that I was originally from New York so I guess he took that into consideration. I ended up getting the job and 17 years later, I’m still here. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The Yankees have been great whether with MSG or with YES. I’ve always said that outside of playing, this is the best job you could have. It’s worked out really well.

MW: Commentating for the Yankees is one thing. Playing for them is another thing altogether. Do you think you would thrived as a player under George Steinbrenner’s regime?

KS: You know what, I don’t know. I’m not sure. I mean if other guys could do it, I’m sure I could have too. There were some very good teams in those days. Of course, we were one of their rivals as George pointed out. Yeah, I could see where he was very demanding. That first year, doing the games on TV for New York, I just did what I had always done. I prepared just as I had in the past as player. George never said anything bad about it and I’ve gotten a lot of favorable feedback around the city. I think I would have fit in fine as a player because I would have prepared well and then I would have gone out and done my job.

MW: Do you feel that some players tend to fit in better in New York than others? Is the NY media lime light overstated sometimes?

KS: I think there is something to that. With all the media attention, there are certain players that handle it better than others. You see it from time to time — players that have done well, and others who come to NY and don’t do quite as well. There are writers and opinions everywhere. It does happen. You need to have a thick skin. You need to go out there and do your job as best as possible and let things fall where they may. For me, personally, having grown up in NY, I knew what to expect as a visitor. That’s just how it is. It can be a demanding place. I’ve mentioned on the air that NY isn’t just competing against everyone else, but their own history as well. And their history is unmatched.

MW: As I perused through some of your stats, your patience really popped off the screen at me [career .282/.388/.436, 14.8 BB%, .371 wOBA, 134 wRC+]. What was the secret behind your patience?

KS: It’s just something I’ve always had. I had it in little league. To me, Matt, when you’re hitting, it’s hard enough as it is to hit the strikes. So why would you want to leave the strike zone to try and hit something that’s too far to reach. So for me, if it was too far to reach, I figured it’d be a ball. My job was basically to get on base and the more times I get on base, the more opportunities my team has to score. I think my OBP was pretty high up there, like .388 for my career. I think the highest I ever had was .438 one year with the Orioles, which was the single season club record.

I can still recall when Earl Weaver called me into his office during Spring Training and told me – and he was kind of ahead of his time as a manager – that I was going to lead off. I told him that I wasn’t a lead-off hitter, and he told me that season I would be. He told me to get on base. He had two guys who could take walks — me, and Bobby Grich who was going to bat second. I walked 118 times which was a team record and still is, and got on base about 40% of the time. Earl was ahead of his time because OBP wasn’t as important in those days to folks, but it was to him.

I can also recall another time he called me into his office – by that time I was batting third in the order – and he said he was going to bat the young guy behind me. The young guy was Eddie Murray. Earl said, “Your job is to get on base for him. If you don’t get a home run I want you on base for him for when he hits one.” That’s what I tried to do. I went up there to hit but if I didn’t get one, I’d take the walk.

MW: When did you learn the value of the walk? Do you think your style of batting would be more appreciated in today’s game? I think you’d fit into a lot of teams’ style of play now-a-days very conveniently.

KS: I appreciated the fact that by taking a walk, I wasn’t making an out. [Laughs] No one likes making an out. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like making the last out of a game. And yes, I do believe, in this day in age, that my ability to get on base would be more appreciated. In fact, in 1973, I led the National League in OBP and no one really said anything about it. It wasn’t even a negotiating point in my next contract. In this day in age, if you lead the league in OBP, someone is going to know about it. It would be pointed out. I think that year in 1973, I reached base 43% of the time and it wasn’t talked about.

I think what helped me too was that the umpires knew I had a good eye. I could take the close pitches that might be called strikes and have them called balls. Players on my own team, the Orioles in particular, would ask “How’d you take pitches like that and not get called strikes?” I said “For starters, I’m not up there swinging at everything and then whining about it like you are. The umpires respect my judgment.”

MW: That’s kind of mind-boggling if you think about it.

KS: [OBP] wasn’t a big deal at the time. People were focused on home runs, batting average, and RBI. Although that particular year, all three of those categories were very good for me, the fact that I walked 123 times – which boosted my OBP to .425 for the year – was the least mentioned point. All the other stats were pretty good too, but they probably weren’t the best in any of the categories. Times have changed. Now it’s more about slugging and OPS. To me, it might be more of an indication of how valuable a player is to his team.

MW: Hypothetical: If you had a chance, in your prime, to face your colleague David Cone (in his prime), what’s the outcome?

KS: It’s funny, because I think Coney said something on the air a few seasons ago about this. He said that he’d have to back me off the plate. He said, number one, he knew he’d have to throw strikes because I wasn’t going swing unless it was a strike which is true. He said he’d try to intimidate me. I said to Coney, “Good hitters don’t become intimidated. They become infuriated.”

You have to be very careful who you choose to knock off the plate. [Laughs] So you never know. It never happened. Although he did say he faced me once in spring training towards the beginning of his career and the end of mine and he said he thought he walked me, so maybe that’s what would end up happening. Coney, back in those days, might not have had the control he had later on his career. To me, he’s like everyone else. He’ll make mistakes and when he does I’ll hit it. If he makes good pitches, he’ll get me out. But I’m going to make him earn it. I’m going to make him throw strikes.

MW: When did you start switch-hitting? What motivated you to give it a try? Did anyone help you with this?

KS: Well, when I was growing up, Mickey Mantle was big in NY, everywhere really. Everyone wanted to hit like Mickey. Also, when I first started playing ball around four or five years old, I hit left-handed and threw the ball left-handed but I noticed that most of the other kids hit and threw right-handed so I tried it. I got to where I could throw right-handed and hit right-handed. So I could actually throw with both hands and hit from both sides.

In little league, I became strictly a right-handed thrower and right-handed hitter. But in the Bronx League, one day, I was fooling around before the game hitting left-handed. My coach said that day, “Why don’t you hit left-handed in the game when we have the right-handed pitchers in.” I ended up hitting two home runs that game and he said, “From now on you’re a switch-hitter.”

I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, and of course that made me more valuable in the eyes of scouts, and by the time I was sixteen, I was known as a prospect who could hit from both sides of the plate. As a professional, it didn’t really matter who was pitching, I’d be comfortable on either side of the plate. But towards the end of my career, I thought I was a better left-handed hitter.

MW: Were there any pitchers who you hit particularly well? Particularly poorly?

KS: I know I hit Dennis Eckersley well. I think I had more hits off him than any other pitcher. I know I didn’t hit Ron Guidry – who’s a great guy for starters — very well. He was not fun at all. It was always going to be a tough night when he was on the mound. I know I only hit one home run against him and that was in the Thurman Munson game back in ‘76 at Yankee Stadium, and that was basically him hitting my bat and the ball flying out on its own. Outside of that, I think I was less than a .200 hitter against him. It was because of him that I didn’t hit .300 for my career against the Yankees. I hit other guys on that team pretty well, but not him.

Nolan Ryan struck me out a lot but he struck out a lot of people a lot. I did get my hits off him though. I believe I hit .300 against him – I think I was 12-40 against him in fact – but I think he struck me out like 16 times, but I don’t feel badly about that. He was striking everyone else out too. But I did get my walks. You see, I think no matter who was pitching I was going to bat third and I think Earl felt that even if I didn’t hit whoever was pitching well, I’d get walks and would get things set up for the next guy. Instead of going 0-4 or 0-5, I might go 0-3 with a walk or two, and to Earl, it meant more scoring opportunities for the team. For guys I did hit well, I might hit 2-3 or 3-3 with a couple walks and Earl noticed that too.

MW: What are your thoughts on the emergence of advanced baseball metrics? If they had been accessible to you as a player, would you have utilized them?

KS: As a player, I imagine if they were around when I was playing, probably so. I would have liked to know a lot more about the pitchers I was facing. With the stroke of your computer, or your phone, or whatever, you can find out more about a guy now than ever before. All I knew as a player was who was pitching to me over the next three days. I had a general idea – though by no means necessarily as factual as it is now — of how hard the guy threw, how his breaking pitches were and how he had been playing. It was completely different. Nowadays, fans have so much more information available to them. If someone is willing to get into it, it can make the game that much more interesting.

MW: I found that my personal appreciation of the game has increased exponentially as I’ve explored sabermetrics. I know there is a group of fans out there (and maybe they’re even the majority of fans) who cringe at the new age stats – can’t have the nerds ruining baseball with all their numbers! For me though, the metrics are not diminishing the game, rather they’re merely elaborating on what our eyes see. The “mystique,” if that’s what you want to call it, hasn’t disappeared at all. If anything, it’s grown substantially now that I can further appreciate more of what I see.

KS: Exactly. Exactly, Matt. But the one thing I would caution, though, is that the numbers don’t really tell you about the heart of a player. I mean, who are the real competitors? I’ve always said that when you get in the playoffs – and I like to see game sevens mind you – you see who your real players are. For example, in his last game with the Yankees, Hideki Matsui drove in six runs! He knew it was going to be his last game with the Yankees. He ended up as the MVP of the World Series back in 2009 against the Phillies. And to me, he was a very clutch player, and the Yankees miss someone like him. He was a clutch player throughout his time with the Yankees and those are the types of players I really admire and sometimes those moments can’t necessarily be captured simply.

MW: Which current MLB player most reminds you of yourself?

KS: Ooh! Wow. That’s a good one. Umm, someone with a high OBP of course, who’s not really a big time slugger. Someone who … wow … you know I have never really thought about it. I’m not sure. I know that I’ve talked to people like Stick Michael and he said in this day and age, my abilities would have been appreciated more, to the point where I would have been one of the highest paid players in the game though. Maybe not the top top tier, but I would have been up there. In my day, I was near the top [in pay grade] and that’s because the Orioles valued me as one of their top players. They made it worth my while to not become a free agent a couple times. Do you have anyone in mind?

MW: I think you may laugh at this. I’m almost certain this isn’t the best comparison. But, the first name that came to my mind – and please know I mean no offense to anyone – is Nick Swisher. For lack of a better term, I think he’s kind of a “poor man’s” version of you. His approach at the plate seems kind of similar though.

KS: [Laughs] That’s pretty good. His OBP is pretty good. Umm, nothing against Nick, but I think I was a bit more of a clutch player than him. I think my playoff record speaks to that. I see what you mean though, though my batting average was better too.

MW: [Laughs] Hence the “poor man” disclaimer!

KS: But you’re right. The approach is the same. He runs deep counts, isn’t afraid of taking the walk. Yeah, hits well from both sides. Yeah, I could see that.

MW: Okay, okay. Let’s do some true or false…

KS: Alright.

MW: True or False: Yankees stick to the $189M austerity budget next season.

KS: True. The reason I say true is that they’ve had really good success this year with all their stars injured. I have a feeling it’s pointing the organization in the direction of saying “What do we need all these guys for when we’re hanging in there without them?” Of course, they’re not able to bludgeon teams like they have in the past. The Yankees have always hit over 200 home runs since the time I came here, and the one year they weren’t able too, they didn’t make the playoffs.

So, I think they’ll stick to it. What happens is the luxury tax will reset and starts all over again, so maybe they then go back over the luxury threshold then. I think if they don’t make the playoffs, maybe they won’t stick with it though. If they make the playoffs, they do.

MW: True or False: Both Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda are gone next season.

KS: False. One of them will be back. My gut feeling is Kuroda will be the one who comes back because he’s pitching pretty well this year. I think Andy Pettitte has had more physical problems this year – hopefully he won’t have any more for the rest of the season – but I think if the Yankees do make the playoffs, Andy will call it a career and he’ll want to go watch his son, Josh, pitch in college. He has a tendency to talk about his son more than anything else.

MW: True or False: Yankees fans will look back and feel they “won” the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero trade in the next few years.

KS: I think they kind of already do even though Pineda has not pitched yet. He’s getting closer and you see what’s happening to Montero. He’s in the Mariners Minor League system, and hasn’t lived up to the potential that everyone thought he had. He hasn’t flourished in Seattle. Defensively, I saw him in a few games, and he wasn’t very good at all.

I watched the Mariners a few weeks ago as I was preparing for the series and he wasn’t very good, and eventually he was sent out. His defense has affected his hitting I think too. Until he realizes his potential, it’s just not going to happen. Pineda is about ready to burst onto the scene though.

MW: Does he ever develop a changeup?

KS: [Laughs] I don’t know. I just want to see him get someone out. I don’t really care how he does it to be honest.

MW: [Laughs] Fair enough.

MW: True or False: Yankees reach the playoffs this season.

KS: [Long Pause] Boy that’s difficult.

MW: Ken! You’re killing me here! Long pauses like that will send our readership off the ledge!

KS: [Laughs] Yeah probably. There are four teams involved here. I’m going to say true here, they do make the playoffs. I think they’re going to get more help as the season goes on. Can I qualify this answer with every team has its weaknesses?

MW: Definitely.

KS: The Red Sox pitching outside of Lester and Buchholz hasn’t been great. The Rays offense – although they’ve hit recently – and some of their rotation haven’t been doing all that well. Price is injured. Hellickson has an ERA north of five. Their bullpen has been very shaky outside of Peralta. The Orioles might be the best team all around offensively but their starting pitching has not been all that good and their bullpen has struggled – though it looks like Johnson is starting to come around after that rough stretch. Each team has their issues. It’ll be a very interesting season. To me, it’ll go down to the last 10 days. All four teams may still be involved by then, which is why I hesitated.

MW: I think that sounds like a very sensible response.

KS: Also, I think the Blue Jays can play a little better. Everyone picked them before the season started. They kind of remind of a slow pitch softball team though.

MW: [Laughs]

KS: Defensively, they are not very good. Their starting pitching is not what they thought it would be due to injury, or whatever. Their bullpen has been shaky. They hit home runs though. It’s like, “Let’s see how far we can hit the ball.” But that’s basically it. That’s what they do. They hit home runs and strike out a lot. Their defense was abysmal at the beginning of the year. They’ve had some stretches where they’ve played better throughout the season, but I think they’ve dug themselves into too big of a hole – particularly considering the strength of the division.

MW: So, aside from being a great player, entertaining Yankees commentator, and all-around good guy, something tells me there’s even more. I bet you have a good cause that should get some attention, right?

KS: Definitely! I’ve recently been helping with a golf tournament designed to raise money and awareness for the Cool Kids Campaign. It’s a fantastic fundraiser designed to help provide kids with cancer a higher quality of life for themselves and their families. It’s a great cause and I’d welcome all of you to check it out at CoolKidsCampaign.org.

Needless to say, a big thanks goes out to Mr.Singleton from everyone at RAB. Be sure to follow Ken on Twitter. His handle is @29alltime.

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Yanks no match for A's; drop series opener 6-4
2013 Draft: Yankees sign first rounder Eric Jagielo
  • idontlikemattwarden

    Ugh, we are getting Matt Warden Day a day early? Worst Wednesday ever.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

      Ugh, tell me about it. Can’t stand that guy!

      • jsbrendog

        the best part about this to me is that this would’ve looked almost identical regardless of who was asking the questions haha.

        he isn’t even hating on an opinion piece or your writing….he is kinda hating on ken singleton….which makes him a double dick

    • Nick

      What planet are you on? I think Matt has been a breath of fresh air. I love this article, great work Matt, keep it up.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

        Thanks, Nick. I appreciate the praise and am happy you enjoyed the interview.

        As for my less than enamored fan above, not much you can do other than chuckle. Can’t please em all.

        • Terry Sheldon

          Seems like some people are like, if you can’t say something unkind about someone then don’t say anything. Waste of energy. I enjoyed your interview very much, learned things I didn’t know about Ken Singleton.

    • Eddard

      I’ve always thought the more perspectives there are the better, so Matt gives us another voice and I enjoy his articles. I wish more of those contributors and Ben/Joe would post more often. Other than Matt, those contributors listed on the main page contribute about as much Ben Francisco. You mean before or after he was DFA’d? BOOM!

    • Pat D

      No, I’m pretty sure that the worst Wednesday ever was 9/12/01.

      Also, just because you’re an obvious troll doesn’t mean you’re not a dick.

      Because you’re a dick.

      • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

        *Stands up and applauds*

        Somewhere, idontlikemattwarden burst into flames, and he may not even be sure why.

    • Paco Dooley

      You sir, are a total moron.

  • Adam

    I’ve been listening to Ken Singleton since I was a kid, and I love him and this interview. Awesome. Hope he’s calling games for the next twenty years too.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

      Glad to hear it Adam! Ken was a fantastic guy to chat with.

    • Wolfgang’s Fault

      Ditto, w/the caveat that I’ve been listening to him ever since he’s been broadcasting for the Bronx Bombers. Remember him as a NY Met, Montreal Expo, & Oriole, too. That coach he had that told him to switch hit in that ballgame he talked about was pretty observant, eh? Love that the Mick influenced Ken to to hit from both sides as well. Two pretty fair hitters there, huh? Great interview. Clearly, Mr. Singleton is one class act!

  • Eddard

    Thanks for doing this, Matt. I always enjoy Kenny’s smooth voice on YES. He seems like a good guy. He recognizes the balance between sabermetrics and also the intangibles of the player. He was right about Hideki being clutch. We could use him this year.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

      Glad you enjoyed it Eddard!

  • Ralph

    I have all the respect in the world for Ken Singleton as a player and a broadcaster but he has to be one of the cockiest people around (on air and in interviews.)

    • Brett is Bubbas Son

      My father grew up with Kenny and his brother, played baseball with the two of them for most of his childhood. After they graduated high school my father lost contact. A while back ago Kenny was inducted into the Westchester Sports Hall of Fame and even though he hadn’t seen my father in 30-40 years, he sent him an invite to the ceremony. That sounds like a pretty humble guy to me…

    • http://www.twitter.com/mattpat11 Matt DiBari

      I actually think the exact opposite. He’s not Phil Rizzuto self deprecating, but I don’t think you’d realize how good he was if you just listened to him.

      I’ll always remember a game probably about ten years ago where Singleton and Bobby Murcer were talking about how much they wished they could hit like Adam Kennedy

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      He was a legitimately great major league baseball player. Of course he’s cocky.

  • Regis

    I love Ken! He’s the best!
    I never looked up his ststs – I didn’t realize how good of a hitter he was.

  • TomH

    The reason I say true is that they’ve had really good success this year with all their stars injured. I have a feeling it’s pointing the organization in the direction of saying “What do we need all these guys for when we’re hanging in there without them?”

    The above is in answer to the question of whether the “189” plan continues. The problem with this is that it’s only mid-June! Let Sabathia keep struggling, let the post-April slumps of Wells and Hafner prove long-term slumps, let ARod and Jeter return (if ARod is allowed to) in reduced versions of their old selves, etc., and this triumphalism–“What do we need all these guys for when we’re hanging in there without them?–may sound kind of hollow.

    • Henry Krinkle

      Couldn’t pass up a chance to knock favorite team, could you?:)

  • Bavarian Yankee

    good job, Matt. Ken Singleton is one of those guys you just love listening to. It’s great to hear him talk about baseball, it’s always good stuff.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    LOVE this interview. I’m a huge fan on Ken Singleton, and I wish he would get more games. He’s got the perspective from the players side, but he’s also polished, and (this always sounds weird) he’s got a great voice.

    Look out!

  • John

    Great interview, Matt. I have always enjoyed listening to Ken Singleton.

    • TomH

      Agree. He’s a great announcer: ideal broadcasting voice, not given to the kind of techno-babble of Leiter. He also has a great laugh (not a minor virtue in TV people).

  • trr

    Thanks Matt.
    Would like to see more like this in the future

  • Hassey

    The real hard-hitting interview question would have been:

    Ken, the masses need to know…is that a wig or not?

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Great questions, Matt. You really got some interesting responses out of him.

    Also, who doesn’t love to look at a late-70’s/early-80’s Topps card? Wish you would have pulled out one of the two-pic ones from ’83 on, but I think Kenny was out of the league, or really close to it, by then.

    I hope Mike starts throwing a little cash in the pockets. You need to stick around more. Marriage ain’t cheap, either.

  • Thomas

    Excellent interview. Really great stuff.

    I’d say a good comp for Singleton is Lance Berkman. Though Berkman has more power and slightly better stats (though that may be due to playing in Minute Maid). Both walked a lot, had a good average, switch hitters, and played OF (though Berkman played a lot of first too).

    • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

      Thanks, Thomas. Berkman is a good comparison in a lot of ways I think. B-Ref also makes a case for Headley too (though he too is an IF).

  • Robert

    Kenny Singleton Class act,saw him play love him in the booth!!!

    Now Bring back Jim Katt
    Get Rid of Overbay and Ichiro
    Send Adams back down
    Bring up Almonte and Neal….

    Youk is the back up 1Baseman
    Adams will be back when Youk goes down again

    • Nuke Guy (Knoxvillain)

      I wouldn’t get rid of Overbay. I think he’s done very well. Also, great interview. Ken Singleton is awesome.

  • Ramiro

    Great interview. Keep doing what you’re doing, Matt.

    Singleton has been my favorite Yankees announcer since I was a kid, follwed by Kaat.

    • trr

      I miss Jim Kaat as well.

      • jsbrendog

        i love when i randomly put on mlb network and hear his voice. i get genuinely excited.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Jim Kaat is signficantly freaked out by this.

          • Itwasforbusiness

            I was traveling from work one morning of a yankees game and saw Jim Kaat in a rest area upstate. First of all that guy is tall. Im 6′ and looking up to a 70+ year old man is just weird. Dont they shrink? Secondly you could kind of tell he was looking for people to recognize him (there were a lot of yankees fans there as it was the morning of a day game). I was one of the few that did but both the times I went near him was in the bathroom and starting a convo with Kitty in the restroom was weird so I let him wander out of there in peace.

  • Bob Buttons

    A great treat on a Wednesday, thanks!

    Also, is it weird that I hear Singleton in my head saying the words while reading the piece?

    • Kramerica Industries

      I don’t think it’s that weird. It’s still Ken’s opinions, verbal or written, so if you’re used to hearing his voice, it’s not that weird to imagine hearing him say that stuff.

  • pat

    Ah yes, Papa Singleton. He has a voice that can make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they make Sinatra look like a hobo.

  • LarryM Fl

    Matt: It was a good interview and different from the usual perspectives.

    I like Ken in the booth. He brings the fan, a players view. I have one quirk its his favorite saying,”back in the day.” But I guess its appropriate. Another good interview might David Cone.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    I love Kenny. Best announcer in New York.

    • Wheels

      Not afraid to say he is more clutch than Nick Swisher. I like that.

  • upstate yanks

    I think a better modern day comparison would be someone like Berkman. Even though the Puma might be slighty better.

  • http:/www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew)

    Great interview Matt! How did you get Ken to sit down with you?

    • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

      Appreciate the praise, (formerly Drew). We chatted on the phone for about an hour. This interview was made possible by the folks at YES.

  • iYankees

    Great interview, Matt. Ballsy with that Swisher comparison. ;)

    • Robinson Tilapia

      +1

      We need a name change here to Matt “Balls” Warden. Get it done, Axisa.

      • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

        Lol thanks iYankees. I’d say that comparison was a biproduct of spur-of-the-moment musing and a general lacking of a filter (as my wife would say).

        Tilapia — I’ll hassle Mike until he let’s me go by that handle.

  • JMK

    Excellent interview. I’ve met Ken Singleton a few times; he really is a friendly, humble guy.

  • Dalek Jeter

    Good interview, I have to say though…Kenny is confident to the point of cocky, which I guess is understandable. He was an MLB player for a decade and a half and was great all but his last season.

  • JP

    Ken Singleton is the best! Every game I watch on YES I hope he is announcing, preferably without Michael Kay.

  • RJ

    Great interview… Ken is a joy to listen to during the Yankees games…

  • Paco Dooley

    Love Singleton with Cone as a combination – fun to listen to, good knowledge of the landscape of modern baseball, and they provide the sorts of insights I really like to get from announcers.

  • ropeadope

    Wonderful interview Matt. I’ve conducted a few of these (for a non sports related website), and oftentimes the interviewee is far less forthcoming than Kenny was here. Your well thought out questions elicited interesting, detailed responses. Great work.

  • Leg-End

    Great interview Matt.

    Singleton is great, pair him with Cone and its a perfect broadcast.

  • slowleftarm

    Matt, I really enjoyed the interview. Ken Singleton is by far my favorite Yankee announcer, now that Jim Kaat has retired, and this was a really good read. Thanks!

  • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com Rebecca

    This was fantastic, Matt.

  • PFOJ

    In the most recent Historical Baseball Abstract, each decade had a section from Bill James’ wife where she would, among other things, list the best looking players of each decade. She listed Singleton as her choice for the 1970s. Somehow, word of this reached him and he sent her a thank you card for it. Class act.

    • vicki

      along with carlton fisk. clearly anti-yankee bias. my mom never cared about baseball but she still talks about that dreamy bucky dent.

  • FIPster Doofus

    Excellent interview, Matt. You’ve gotta love Ken Singleton. Pure class.

  • Handsome B. Wonderful

    Excellent, thanks Matt. I’m a big fan of Mr. Singleton — to me, he’s the best talent on the YES broadcast crew and it’s not close.

  • flamingo

    What a great, great interview.

  • Patrick

    Great interview. I’d like to hear more of Kenny’s opinions when he isn’t under the constraints of the YES booth. Always helpful, never snarky, and always has a touch of wit. Thanks!

  • GhostWriter21

    Great interview, Matt! I can’t understand the criticism…I had to suffer through Kenny’s great seasons as a young, displaced Yankee fan living 12 miles outside of Baltimore. He’s a consummate professional and was an outstanding player in his day.

  • BigHeadKay

    Ken Singleton is GREAT. he and Jim Kaat together were so knowledgeable….if you get Kaat back, and add Paul O’Neill in the booth for a little blood & guts of the game….that would be an AWESOME broadcast team.

  • tommy cassella

    jim kaat still calls games on the major league baseball station. why the yanks let him go, I will never know. it seems they never do the right thing.

  • tommy cassella

    jim kaat is a hall of fame pitcher and he has a hall of fame personality.

  • michael goldberg

    I grew up with Kenny in Mount Vernon, grade school, junior high at the Graham School, Mount Vernon High, and even at Hofstra U. (I transferred there from U. of Dubuque,Iowa, 1967-68 just one semester after Kenny left Hofstra to sign with the Mets!)…that’s like 50-60 years!!!…we played every sport, including outdoor ice hockey (!)…Kenny always went all out, and together with our great teammates, we were all a force to be respected and remembered, and we won against all kinds of opponents, in ALL the sports, on a regular basis! I once had Kenny down 10-0 in the one on one stickball playground at the Graham School (I never ever beat Kenny in stickball!!!)…next thing I knew, Kenny went on a hitting frenzy, no matter what I threw (I am left handed throwing curves, screwballs, etc. with the very worn tennis ball!!!) Kenny just smashed one ball after another over the fence into the street (Columbus Ave.?) or on top of the building across the street (I had to go get the ball each time, we only had that one ball!!!) and wound up beating me 20-10!!!…I will always remember Kenny’s Father (and his Mother!)…Mr. Singleton took us(Kenny, his brother Fred, my brother Donald, Kenny’s best friend Joey, Arnold, and who else(?) by subway to Yankee Stadium (1957-58?) around the time when the Dodgers and Giants left N.Y.C.!!!…Say what? No more “Say Hey Kid” Willie Mays? Oh no!!!…Kenny and I were Giant fans…my Father, Sol “Chuck” Goldberg took my brother and me to the Polo Grounds, and we had the same exact reaction that Kenny had when his Father took him to Ebbets Field(?)…the green grass and all the colors that we did not know about or able to see on the black and white t.v. games with the three New York teams!!! My Father also, like Kenny’s Father, got me going with baseball around 4-5 years young and “allowed” me to be a natural lefty! What a big life changing time in 1962(?) when the Mets started…before that we were alone with the Yankees for about 4-5 years…Kenny and I went to a Met game, 1964-65, and after very intently watching everything on the field, Kenny very confidently said that he could be out there doing that, and just 2-3 years later he was doing just that!!!…when I wound up in Florida, working with the FLA. Dept. of Corrections, I would try to connect with Kenny during Spring training, and a couple of times Kenny invited, allowed me up to the broadcast booth, Palm Beach Stadium, when Kenny announced with the Expos…I will never ever forget the time (1995-96? baseball strike?)when a foul ball came right back directly at us, everyone ducking out of the way, hitting the radio announcer next to me in his head!!!…VERY SCARY!!!…I asked him if he was o.k., he just shook it off, smiled, picked up the ball, asked me if I wanted it (YES!!!)…signed it (so did Kenny and the t.v. cameraman!)…may someone, PLEASE!!!…relay what I just wrote to Kenny, with my tel. # 805-403-0378 and e-mail: michaelgoldbergtcbusiness@yahoo.com…???…THANK YOU, SINCERELY AND ALWAYS VERY GRATEFUL, Michael Goldberg!!!…

  • michael goldberg

    AND: Kenny was not only the biggest, strongest, and most athletic, but the most thoughtful, intelligent, had the big heart, and determination to overcome obstacles!!!…Kenny would “announce” during our sports games all that was going on, pick up a stick or something like it was a microphone! Kenny knew from a young age, had a dream, what he wanted to be, and made the dream a reality…what an inspiration Kenny has been, maybe more than he knows!…I eventually realized, when I was a teacher/staff trainer with the FLA Dept. of Corrections, 1983-2000,…the V.I.P. Program (Violence Interruption Process)in which the state trained me to run very successful workshops at the various state prisons, that anything one says or does may inspire, motivate someone else more than one knows!!!…after I was done working with the correctional officers and gang related inmates, both sides would often break down and cry, hug each other, and realize that they do not have to hate and hurt each other!!!…and I am talking about very “hard-core” officers and inmates!!!…anyway, as my Father Sol “Chuck” Goldberg would say, “Enough all ready!”…and again, PLEASE, someone with the YES Network, or the Media, PLEASE relay what I have written here to Kenny…give him my tel. # 805-403-0378 and e-mail?…THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SINCERELY, ALWAYS GRATEFUL, AND HUMBLE, michael goldberg…

  • michael goldberg

    AND: I just have to say that my Mother Helen and Father Sol “Chuck” Goldberg, may they both Rest in Peace, thought the world of Kenny, appreciated that he looked out for their sons, and were so happy for him and his family when Kenny made the big time…and even if he did not make it like that, Kenny was always appreciated, respected, and remembered for the good-natured gentleman that he was and STILL is!!!…o.k. “enough all ready”…waiting for replies, and someone to PLEASE relay to Kenny ALL that I have written with my tel.# and e-mail…would mean an awful lot to me, and HOPEFULLY Kenny as well!!!…THANKS AGAIN, ALWAYS SINCERE, GRATEFUL, AND HUMBLE, michael goldberg…

    • michael goldberg

      I meant to thank Matt Warden in my above replies for a great, interesting, and thoughtful interview with Kenny!!!…it is real good to read the different responses, especially from the new generation of fans who grew up only knowing Kenny as their Yankee announcer…check out some of the legendary announcers who inspired us from the 1950-60’s: Mel Allen, Red Barber, Vin Scully (STILL with the Dodgers for over 60 years!!!)…the power and influence of the spoken word, especially LIVE during an exiting sports game…the announcer makes the game become even more ALIVE, exiting, and interesting!!!…thanks again Matt Warden for interviewing Kenny (the last time that we talked with each other was 2000 when I was on my way driving from Florida to California…the last time that we saw each other was 1997 at Dodger Stadium with my brother and his son (our Father, Sol “Chuck” wanted to make the game, but could not move around too well, and not long after passed on from a paralyzing stroke…thank you Kenny for leaving us tickets like you did other times in Boston, Montreal (when Joey and I visited you there!)…Kenny so proudly told me (at Dodger Stadium,1997?) that he just recently had a baby girl (Angelica?)…an entire generation has grown up since then!!!…where does the time go, maybe only Einstein know, going, going, gone!!!…Kenny has left his long lasting mark not only on baseball, but on many individuals in N.Y.C., all around the U.S.A., and world wide!!!…many more years Kenny…Good LORD Willing!!!…Sincerely, Humble, and Gratefully Yours, michael goldberg…

      • michael goldberg

        PLEASE FORGIVE me for leaving ALL the replies…it is like I can’t stop thinking of what Kenny has meant to me and others…the thoughts, memories, and appreciation: Kenny was our leader, not just on the sports fields…he was like a teacher, coach, mentor, motivator, friend, a strong and dependable force, a presence standing above the crowd…he could run for public office, but may be more influential behind the microphone, because Kenny never sought after the spotlight…he quietly went about his business…the spotlight found him!!!…all Kenny had to do was be himself, which elevated him above all that was going on…Kenny influenced, motivated, and inspired me to do the same while I was with the FLA. Dept. of Corrections, helping me to survive in such a life threatening world for 17 years!!! I sure hope that what I have written here is read by someone, someday, and that there is a reply, who knows?…what would mean the most to me is for Kenny to read ALL of the above, because ALL these 50+ years I never told Kenny ALL this like I should have!!!…it is like I got lost (in my own mind!!!)…and now finding the right way to be, FINALLY!!!…so thank you Matt Warden and your media network for allowing me to re-connect…one never really knows where our words and actions will wound up connecting to LORD knows who or what?!!!…again, thank you, Sincerely, Humble, and Gratefully Yours, michael goldberg…”enough all ready!!!”…

  • michael goldberg

    AMEN TO ALL OF THE ABOVE…LET US PRAY (ESPECIALLY NEEDED NOW FOR THE YANKEES AND THEIR DEVOTED FANS, AND FOR EVERYONE WORLD WIDE!!!)…I AM NOT A RELIGIOUS FANATIC, JUST SOMEONE WHO HAS FINALLY SEEN THE LIGHT, WANTS AND NEEDS TO SHARE WITH OTHERS MY SPIRIT OF GRATITUDE…HOPEFULLY, WHOEVER READS ALL THIS AND MY ABOVE WORDS, WILL BE MOTIVATED TO PASS IT ALL ON, ESPECIALLY TO KENNY!!!…THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO HAS TAKEN THEIR PRECIOUS TIME TO READ ALL THAT I HAVE WRITTEN!!!…LOVE, michael goldberg.

  • michael goldberg

    THANK YOU!!!