Episode #091: Bobby Valentine

Valentine is a Connecticut native, growing up in Stamford where he was the only three-time All-State football player in state history at Rippowam High School. One of the best athletes from Connecticut of the 20th century, as voted by Sports Illustrated, he planned on pursuing a college football career at USC, but was selected fifth in the first round of the 1968 amateur baseball draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Valentine made his MLB debut September 2, 1969, versus the New York Mets, a club he would go on to manage.

All told, Valentine spent 10 seasons in the major leagues, playing for the Dodgers, San Diego Padres, California Angels, Mets and Seattle Mariners. He appeared in 639 games and hit .260 over the course of his career. Valentine played every position on the field, except pitcher, during his career, showing versatility that has served him well since his final appearance in the show on September 30, 1979.

After his playing career, Valentine remained in baseball as a third-base coach for the Mets. He made his major league managerial debut in 1985 with the Texas Rangers, earning UPI American League Manager of the Year honors in 1986 and went onto become the winningest manager in Rangers history. Valentine took over the Mets in 1996 and led the squad to back-to-back postseasons, including a 2000 World Series appearance. Including a season at the helm of the Boston Red Sox in 2012, Valentine has 1,186 major league managerial victories under his belt.

In 1994, Valentine became the first American to accept a management position in the Pacific League of Japan for the Chiba Lotte Marines. He returned to the states after a two-year stint, but went back to lead the Marines again from 2004-09, a tenure that included a 2005 Japan Series Championship.

Valentine also has experience in the broadcast booth. He can be found on the sets of SNY, covering the New York Mets, and MLB Network, as an expert voice on the state of the game today. Valentine was part of the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball announcing team, with Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman. He also serves as NBC’s senior baseball analyst.

He has seen success in the business arena as well. Since 1980, he has owned and operated Bobby Valentine’s Sports Gallery Cafe, a sports bar that is located in his hometown of Stamford. In January 2014, he opened a franchise in Windsor Locks in partnership with Sportech Venues, Inc. There is also a franchise in Arlington, Tx.

Valentine is married to Mary Branca, the daughter of former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca, and they have a son, Bobby Jr.


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