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Though he now broadcasts Yankees games on the team’s RSN, YES Network, Ken Singleton’s baseball career was forged in Baltimore. After two years in New York and three in Montreal, the slugging switch-hitting outfielder went on to a superb career, blasting 246 home runs and driving in over 1000 runs in 15 years in the bigs, 10 with the O’s.
But before Shea Stadium, Parc Jarry and Memorial Stadium, Singleton called Mt. Vernon, N.Y., home. Known for producing standout athletes like Singleton, Ralph Branca and hoopsters Gus Williams and Scooter McCray — and one-time athlete turned actor by the name of Denzel Washington — the city has invited these and other luminaries home as the Mt. Vernon Boys & Girls Club celebrates its 100th anniversary with a gala on March 24.
Today, Singleton came home to preview the Gala with media and others including former NBA player and Mt. Vernon Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Lowes Moore. Singleton will be honored with the Denzel Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports at the Gala, and is understandably proud of his roots.
“Mt. Vernon was special place to grow up,” he remembered. “I rode my bicycle everywhere, and have fond memories.”
Singleton joked that thanks to a musically-inclined aunt, his baseball career was almost derailed before it began.
“As a kid, Aunt Helen wanted me to play the piano,” he laughed, “but after three weeks she said: ‘tell your mother you want to play baseball for a living. I said, ‘She already knows.’ Needless to say I wasn’t a great piano player.”
And while he was making his mark in Mt. Vernon, famous eyes were upon him, and in his corner.
Mt. Vernon never forgot its conquering baseball hero, honoring the youngster upon his callup to the Mets.
“They had a parade in Mt Vernon just when I came up to the big leagues, three weeks after I was called up by the Mets. I guess the town was either worried it would,’t last very long or I’d be traded,” he said.
Singleton recalled a pair of Hall of Famers who shaped his career.
“I played against against Rod Carew in New York, that guy could hit,” he recalled. “When he made it to the big leagues, that made us feel we could do it, too. And Earl Weaver was the best manager I ever played for — a great motivator. You could say anything you wanted to him as long as you could back it up.”
As for the award, Singleton was humbled to learn of the honor, but maintained his sense of humor.
“It’s still sinking in that I’m receiving the Boys and Girls Club Lifetime Achievement Award from Denzel. I don’t know who’s more excited, my wife or me. I’ve never met him, it’s going to be a special night.
“When you receive a lifetime achievement award, you know you’re getting old.”
Topics: 100th Anniversary, Aunt Helen, Baseball Career, Baseball Hero, Callup, Denzel Washington, Fond Memories, Girls Club, Gus Williams, Hoopsters, Ken Singleton, Lifetime Achievement Award, Mccray, Mt Vernon, Nba Player, Parc Jarry, Ralph Branca, Shea Stadium, Time Athlete, Yes Network