Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Cards #445, Ken Singleton (Article 82)
by Paul Semendinger
(Continuing a series…)
No, he never played on the Yankees, but he was an announcer on the YES Network for a long long time, so I decided that Ken Singleton deserved to be included in this essay series.
The first word that comes to my mind when I hear the name Ken Singleton is “class,” but I wonder if that’s the right word.
Webster’s defines “class” as, “the best of its kind.” Ken Singleton was a very good announcer, but I didn’t ever think he was the best, the way I might think of Vin Scully. Maybe “class” isn’t the word.
To try to get to the definition of who Singleton was, I expanded “class” to “classy” and that brought me closer to the description I was looking for:
“having or reflecting high standards…”
“admirably skillful and graceful.”
Yes, those words describe Ken Singleton.
But they still weren’t quite what I was looking for.
“the quality of being worthy of honor or respect.”
Yes, that was Ken Singleton. Those words describe the man and the voice I listened to on countless Yankees games over the years.
It was a joy to listen to Ken Singleton. Often times, he was the professional in the booth. He was dignified. He exuded class.
Ken Singleton retired as an announcer at the end of the 2021 season. He will be missed. A lot.
I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t touch upon Ken Singleton, the baseball player, for just a bit.
In short, the man could play.
I don’t think many people know just how good of a player Ken Singleton was.
Over a fifteen-year career, played for the Mets, Expos, and Orioles, Ken Singleton batted .282 with 246 homers and 1,065 runs batted in. He played during an era (1970-1984) when offense was down and yet he hit 20 or more homers in a season five times and drove home 100 or more runs in a season four times.
Ken Singleton was a three-time All-Star. He received MVP votes in seven different seasons.
Singleton appeared in the post season twice (1979 and 1983) and batted .333 in 17 post season games.
A switch-hitter, Ken Singleton was one of the minor stars of his era.
I never actually rooted for Ken Singleton – he was always on the team I was rooting against. During the season, I rooted against the Orioles. In the 1979 World Series, I was wrapped up in Pirates fever and rooted hard for them. My heart was with Willie Stargell and, even more, Dave Parker. Oh, how I rooted for Parker. I loved the guy. (I was able to convince my squad in the Boy Scout troop to wear cobra patches as a way to honor Parker – who was known as “The Cobra.”) In 1983, my heart was with the Phillies in the World Series.
But even though I always rooted against Ken Singleton, the ballplayer, I knew I was rooting against someone who was very good.
According to JAWS, Ken Singleton is the 47th best right fielder of all-time. You know, that’s not bad. Imagine being a top-50 player at your position all-time.
No, he wasn’t elite, but he was very good.
On that JAWS chart, Ken Singleton ranks above such big names as Roger Maris, Kirk Gibson, Juan Gonzalez, Paul O’Neill, Hank Bauer, Jackie Jensen, Bob Meusel, and many many others.
Yeah, Singleton was pretty darn good.
He wasn’t the greatest player and he wasn’t the greatest announcer, but he did bring a certain dignity (and class) to the field and the broadcast booth.
Baseball needs people like Ken Singleton, guys that are easy to root for, even when we root against them.
I’m glad that I had the ability to root for Ken Singleton, as a broadcaster at least. I’m very glad he became, at least after his playing days (although he would have been a welcome addition to any Yankees team) part of the Yankees family.