Singleton on long road trip, but still at home in game


April 28, 1994|By Arthur Hirsch | Arthur Hirsch,Sun Staff Writer

Ken Singleton's life still follows the rhythm of the game.

Although Singleton has not played in 10 years, spring still means the baseball cycle begins anew: arriving at the ballpark three hours before game time, traveling through the summer and into fall. Singleton, Orioles outfielder turned sports broadcaster, never has really left baseball.

Months after his 15th and final season in the major leagues ended in 1984, Singleton traveled to Toronto to interview for a television job with The Sports Network. He was hired on the spot and began work as a Montreal Expos television analyst in 1986. In the past four years, he has been splitting his air time between radio play-by-play and television commentary.

"It's like being a player; you have to think quickly," he says. "I love the spontaneity of the game itself."

Singleton found the transition from ballplayer to broadcaster smooth enough, thanks in part to the experience he gained working for Channel 11 during the off-season, filing reports on Little League and softball games.

"I already knew part of the language" of the game, he says. "I think I got into it right away."

The toughest part comes in March, he says, when it's time to say goodbye to his wife and sons in Lutherville and hit the road. Aside from quick visits and "a lot of phone calls," he will not spend time with his family until the season ends. For an Expos broadcaster living in Maryland, there are no homestands.

But Singleton, 46, who grew up in New York City, has no interest in moving from Maryland, where he owns a home and where his son, Justin, attends school.

"There's no reason to move to Montreal," he says. "It's too cold."

He has made a few adjustments to Quebec. He has learned to speak French well enough to "get gasoline. I can go to the store, be polite."

After two years with the New York Mets, Singleton played three years in Montreal before he became an Oriole in 1975 and began the best years of his major-league career. Singleton's 1977 batting average of .328 and on-base average of .438 remain club records. He hit .300 or better three seasons for the Orioles, twice drove in more than 100 runs and hit 35 home runs in 1979.

Singleton still wonders what kind of year he might have had in 1981, had the 50-day strike not interrupted that summer. He started that season afire, hitting .472 in April.

On this date, 10 years ago, Singleton set a still-standing club record of 10 consecutive hits with a home run against the Chicago White Sox. On the last day of the month, he needed a 2-for-3 day against the Toronto Blue Jays to go .500 for April but fell short at 1-for-4.

"My first swing of the [1981] season was a home run," Singleton says. "It just set the tone for the whole month."

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