Tom Singer, a veteran baseball reporter who covered the Pirates for MLB.com the past four years, died suddenly Monday at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 67.
Singer, who battled numerous health issues in recent years, started as a baseball reporter in 1974 and crafted his one-of-a-kind style, that of a wordsmith with a rapier wit and a personality as colorful as his often outlandish outfits.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Pirates reporter Tom Singer,” Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement. “Tom was an ultimate professional and a passionate reporter who was very proud of his Pittsburgh roots.”
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen tweeted his condolences Wednesday afternoon, writing that Singer was “well-respected in our clubhouse. May you rest in peace @Tom_Singer.”
In 2001, Singer was one of the first writers hired by MLB.com. He returned to Pittsburgh, the city where he grew up, in 2012 and saw the Pirates begin to reclaim their former glory by making three consecutive trips to the playoffs.
“Before he left Pittsburgh, we gave Tom a framed picture of the view from the PNC Park press box to take home — a gift on behalf of Pittsburgh's baseball writers,” said Adam Berry, MLB.com’s new Pirates writer. “The first game we covered together last season, he caught me staring out at the downtown skyline and said, ‘It's a view you never get tired of.’
“That stuck with me, because it was just so Tom. He never got tired of that view, of this city, of watching the Pirates, of his job, of his co-workers and colleagues, of this company and especially not of baseball. He's going to be missed by a lot of people.”
In October, Singer wrote a blog post in which stepped back to Oct. 13, 1960, when he walked home from Colfax Elementary in Squirrel Hill, sat down in front of the TV and watched World Series Game 7 against the New York Yankees.
“Then this guy in a No. 9 black-and-white uniform hit a ball over the wall,” Singer wrote. “Bill Mazeroski isn’t what changed my life. The reaction to what he had done did. Immediately, car horns went off outside of my living room window. I looked out to see excited people burst through their front doors and hug in the middle of the street.”
After the National League wild-card game in October, Singer’s last game on the beat, he changed his Twitter biography to read: “From Pirates to doing it all for MLB.com. The season after I left the Angels beat, they won the World Series. Plan the parade, Pittsburgh.”
Singer, the pun king of the press box, loved to study baseball’s rich history. He would often baffle manager Clint Hurdle by finding wild statistical oddities in each game and box score. Hurdle’s response most days was to smile, tilt his head and say, “That is interesting, Tom!”
“Saddened to hear of the passing of MLB’s Tom Singer,” tweeted former Pirates second baseman Neil Walker. “Great representation of what covering Baseball should be. Prayers go out to his family.”
Saddened to hear of the passing of MLB's Tom Singer. Great representation of what covering Baseball should be. Prayers go out to his family.— Neil Walker (@NeilWalker18) February 10, 2016
Singer is survived by his wife of 42 years, Malvina, and his sons Jason and Sean.
When former Kansas City Royals pitcher and color commentator Paul Splittorff died of cancer in 2011, Singer penned his thoughts on the train of life. It chugs along picking up passengers, and then at some point they must exit.
“Strange how the longer you ride it, the more frequent the stops become,” Singer wrote. “They all have had to depart, turning their seats over to new generations. And so The Train chugs along, still welcoming passengers who enhance the journey with their personalities, their conscience and, sure, their skills. ...
“Too often, though, The Train brakes to a stop. Someone has to leave. The cars fall silent as we wave out the windows, mouthing a weak farewell, yet words that still say it all:
“ ‘Thanks for sharing the ride, for making it better.’ ”
By Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.