Earlier this week, Ken Singleton announced that the 2018 season would be his final one in the YES booth, and that at the age of 70, he’ll finally be walking away from baseball. After a distinguished career with the New York Mets, Montreal Expos, and perhaps most famously the Baltimore Orioles, and over 30 years in the broadcasting field, there’s now a finite number of games Yankees fans can spend with Kenny.
Ken is a historical relic of the game of baseball; from his days playing for Earl Weaver to his on-and-off field time with the Expos, to covering Yankee games at the dawn of the late ‘90s dynasty. Few commentators can balance the historical context of the game with the real-life experience of playing it, and Singleton has deftly walked that balance while his YES colleagues, and indeed most commentators in baseball, have settled into their own roles.
Michael Kay is the dedicated company man, Paul O’Neil the class clown, David Cone – friend of the blog, hi David! – the nerd. Kenny’s passed over that, remaining the measured voice of reason.
I’m 23, and because of my geographic situation (I live in Canada), I’ve only had reliable access to YES games for about a decade. I missed the prime of Bobby and Kitty, and my formative Yankees-watching years came as Ken’s broadcast career was winding down. But he’s a favorite of many on the Pinstripe Alley staff, and it’s hard not to get hooked.
He now operates as a pseudo-part time commentator, especially favoring AL West road trips and road games in his beloved Baltimore, but it’s certainly a treat when he makes an appearance. Having had few opportunities to hear Ken work day in and day out, his games on the YES Network have become near-appointment viewing for me. Hearing him is like a special occasion in the middle of a long road trip, and in the case of West Coast games, justification for 1:00 AM baseball.
I don’t want this to sound like an obituary, though. Ken Singleton is still very much alive, and if you’ve heard him throughout spring training, he’s as sharp, cool, and calming as ever. He’ll stay on the peripherals of baseball, I’m sure, and the Yankees are better than anyone at keeping tabs on illustrious members of the team’s history. Hopefully we don’t go too long without hearing that soothing, game-calling voice again.
Still, it feels as though we’ve reached a closing of a chapter of Yankees history. The usual must-watch game-calling from Ken will be somewhat more bittersweet this season, and I hope we all appreciate him just a little bit more in 2018.
This one is gone, but not quite yet.