Ken Singleton still likes his job. As he said, “I have always told people that there is only one job better than being a broadcaster in baseball, and that’s being a player.”
But 34 years after he gave up the latter, he is ready to move on from the former, too.
“I just thought it was time,” he said on Wednesday, two days after he announced on Twitter that his 22nd season calling Yankees games will be his last. “There are things I like to do that I haven’t been able to do during the summer.”
Those include spending time with his family, especially his three grandchildren, ages 8, 5 and 3, and other activities, golf prominent among them.
“I like to play golf with Al Bumbry and Tippy Martinez and Ross Grimsley,” Singleton said, naming three former Orioles teammates. “These are my golfing buddies, and every once in a while, I have to take off and I’m not around for 10 days.”
Singleton, 70, plans to knock several strokes off his current handicap of 10 once he can play more regularly. But first, there is one season left. He will work 55 games, ending with a series at Fenway Park in Boston, where his playing career concluded as well.
It was not the excitement about the 2018 Yankees that led him to stay one more year, but rather the fact that he has a year left on his contract and wanted to fulfill it.
“This is my 22nd year, and they’ve had a winning record every year, and it’s been fun every year, so it’s no different than any other,” he said with a laugh.
Singleton’s favorite season was 1998, when the Yankees won 114 regular-season games and the World Series.
“I think I did 100 games on TV that year and they won 72 of them,” he said. “So I felt like the weather man in San Diego . . . just good news every day.”
Singleton was born in Manhattan, was raised in Mount Vernon, attended Hofstra and began his major league career as a Met in 1970 and 1971 before playing for the Expos and spending a decade with the Orioles. (He splits his time between his homes in Maryland and Florida.)
He quickly transitioned to broadcasting after retiring following the 1984 season, calling Blue Jays and Expos games before joining the Yankees’ crew in 1997.
With his youngest child, Angelica, scheduled to graduate from Penn State in May, next year seemed like a good time to take a year off from baseball for the first time since he was 4.
“I had always told myself that I wasn’t going to stay up in the booth forever,” he said. “I thought, well, now that she’s graduated, maybe it’s time for me to graduate, too.”
So it is time to coach his 8-year-old grandson on the game’s finer points, to read to his granddaughter, and do all of the other things baseball comes between.
“Those things are important to me, and maybe getting even more so, and I want to do them more often,” he said. “Now it’s time for the old cliché: me and my family.
“But it’s more to it than that. It’s my friends that I’ll get to hang out with more, my former teammates who it seems year by year somebody departs the scene, somebody passes away.”
Late last season, Singleton thought about asking YES president of programming John Filippelli for another year after this one, then thought better of it over the winter. “I said, ‘You know what, this has been a good ride,’ ” he said.
“When I first started, a lot of people thought I couldn’t do it and a lot of people thought I shouldn’t do it,” he said. “So in a way, I’ve certainly proved them wrong as the years have gone along.”
He recalled his late mother being skeptical until, after 10 years of him doing television, she deadpanned, “You know, you could make a career out of this.”
“I hadn’t even joined the Yankees yet,” Singleton said. “Once I got to the Yankees, I think she thought it was the real deal.”
Singleton always has been a straightforward announcer absent of gimmicks or shtick.
“It’s not about me; it’s about the Yankees,” he said. “That’s the way I try to handle the games I do. I try to explain when players make mistakes, they stand out because the players are so good. But I’m honest. If the Yankees stink that night, I’m going to say it. But fortunately for me, like I said, in 22 years, a winning record every year. I haven’t had to say that very often.”
Since Singleton’s announcement on Monday, fans have expressed appreciation for his long run, from social media to Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
“The outpouring from fans, it really touched me to realize how many people enjoy what I do,” he said. “So many people said, ‘Don’t stop! Don’t quit!’ That’s nice to know that they want me to stay.”
But he said he will not be swayed.
“When I stopped playing baseball, I knew it was time to stop,” he said. “I could feel that I wasn’t as good and I wasn’t going to stick around and not be as good and screw up everything I’d already done on the field. This is a little different because I know I can keep going if I want to.
“But I’m not the type of guy who’s going to stay in the booth forever. I’ve seen that from other broadcasters in the past, and sometimes they’re not as good as they were in their heyday. That’s not going to happen to me.”