While New York Yankees’ TV play-by-play commentator Michael Kay returned to the YES booth this weekend after taking six weeks off for vocal cord surgery and recovery, that return wasn’t as smooth as Kay was hoping. Kay told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post via text Monday that his voice isn’t yet where he wants it to be, and that has him worried.
After returning from vocal cord surgery to call two games on YES this weekend, he is frightened as his voice didn’t respond as well as he had hoped.
“Quite frankly, I’m scared,” Kay told The Post.
Kay also told Marchand it’s been rough even getting to this point:
“‘Awful,’ Kay said of what the last six weeks have been like for him. ‘Filled with anxiety and fear. Not being able to speak for all that time. You’re trapped in your own mind and you’re thinking the worst. It’s been very scary, and at no point do I think I’m all good now. It took a long time to get back, and I didn’t rush because I want it to be right and I want it to last.'”
It’s unfortunate to hear that the return was rougher than Kay had hoped for, and to hear that things have been hard for him through this process. (That piece also mentions that Kay initially hoped to return three weeks after his surgery, but his vocal cords still weren’t properly healed by then.) And while voice issues can impact anyone, they definitely carry further difficult dimensions for someone who makes his living calling games and hosting a radio show. Here’s what Kay said on the YES broadcast Saturday in an interview with colleague Jack Curry about his return to the booth and how he was still battling through challenges:
Michael Kay is BACK!#YANKSonYES pic.twitter.com/6fuYoHQEbN
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) August 17, 2019
“I was excited walking in, a little emotional, and there was some anxiety as well. You just don’t know if it’s going to hold up. I saw [Yankees’ manager] Aaron Boone earlier and I said ‘Try to have the guys not hit six home runs.’ I’ve been told ‘Maybe don’t try to push it,’ but at the end of nine innings I’ll feel better.”
However, the challenges Kay faced Sunday (when he told Marchand his voice “didn’t have much”) weren’t necessarily thanks just to surgery. He said he also may have caught a cold Sunday, so that may be part of the challenge he faced there. Hopefully, his recovery will continue and things will go better for him this week; he’s set to call five straight games from Tuesday through Saturday, then to resume his ESPN New York radio show next week and to return to doing both radio and TV next Friday.
It is also notable that Kay mentions in that interview with Curry that doing both radio and TV in the same day (a seven-to-eight hour on-air workload) may wind up being too tough after this surgery. That’s why he’s building back up to it, and he’s currently not certain he’ll be able to handle it, telling Curry “We’ll see if I can do two; if not, then I’m going to have to make some tough choices.” So there might be changes ahead for YES and/or ESPN New York if those tough choices are required. In any case, our thoughts are with Kay as he recovers here.