At 72 years old, Bobby Valentine has this physical status:
Robert John Valentine (born May 13, 1950), nicknamed "Bobby V", is a former American professional baseball player and manager.
He is currently the athletic director at Sacred Heart University.
Valentine played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1969, 1971–72), California Angels (1973–75), New York Mets (1977–78), and Seattle Mariners (1979) in MLB.
He managed the Texas Rangers (1985–92), the New York Mets (1996–2002), and the Boston Red Sox (2012) of MLB, as well as the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball (1995, 2004–09). Valentine has also served as the Director of Public Safety & Health for the city of Stamford, Connecticut and an analyst for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.
In February 2013, CBSSports.com hired Valentine to represent its Fantasy Sports business, including running a viral marketing campaign in which he made fun of the many times he was fired in his career and gave fans a chance to "Hire or Fire Bobby V" one more time.
Valentine was born in Stamford, Connecticut, to Joseph and Grace Valentine. He attended Rippowam High School in Stamford, Connecticut, where he was an All-State player in football, baseball and track. He is the only three-time All-State football player in Connecticut history. He set state records for career touchdowns (53), career interceptions for TD (5) and 60-yard dash. The career interception for TD record remains, having later been tied by two other players. As a sophomore in 1965, he averaged 5.6 yards a carry, scored 21 touchdowns and led Rippowam to a 9–0 record and a state championship. He was also a champion ballroom dancer as a teenager, winning a regional competition with his partner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York and took part in the opening ceremonies of the 1964 New York World's Fair. He was president of the student council.
He was recruited by the University of Nebraska, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Southern California as a star in football and baseball, but ultimately chose USC. In 1967, he played collegiate summer baseball for the Yarmouth Indians of the Cape Cod Baseball League. The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him fifth overall in the 1968 Major League Baseball draft and he signed with the Dodgers, receiving a $65,000 signing bonus. He attended both USC and Arizona State University while in the Dodgers organization and was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. His roommate at USC was Bill Buckner who was the Dodgers second round pick in 1968.
At age 18, Valentine made his professional debut playing with the Ogden Dodgers of the Rookie Pioneer League, winning the league's MVP Award, hitting .281 with a .460 slugging percentage and leading the league with 20 stolen bases. He was one of only three players in the league to appear in every game. His roommate was Tom Paciorek and was also teammates with Bill Buckner and Steve Garvey. The manager at Ogden was Tommy Lasorda, the start of a friendship that has lasted four decades. In 1969, Valentine impressive enough in Spring Training that he was promoted to the Class AAA Spokane Indians of the Pacific Coast League. After the PCL season ended, he debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a September call-up in 1969 at 19 years old. Though he did not record a major league at-bat that season, he appeared in 5 games as a pinch runner, scoring three runs.
Back with the Spokane Indians for 1970, Valentine was again his league's MVP after batting .340 with fourteen home runs and leading the Pacific Coast League in eight offensive categories. Led by Valentine and manager Lasorda, Spokane won the league championship over the Hawaii Islanders. He suffered a fractured cheekbone when he was beaned in the PCL playoffs that season and also had right knee surgery to repair a ruptured ligament in January 1971.
Valentine made the Dodgers out of Spring Training in 1971 and batted .249 with one home run and 25 RBIs in 101 games. His first career MLB hit came on April 25, 1971, an RBI single off Milt Wilcox, scoring Steve Garvey in a 4–2 Dodgers win over the Reds. The following season in 1972, he managed to play in 119 games by playing many different positions—including shortstop, second base, third and all three outfield positions and his batting average improved to .274. He missed time after sustaining a broken nose. Following the season on November 28, 1972, he was packaged in a trade along with Frank Robinson, Billy Grabarkewitz, Bill Singer and Mike Strahler to the California Angels for Andy Messersmith and Ken McMullen.
Prior to the start of the 1973 season, Valentine was named Caribbean Series MVP playing shortstop for the series champions from the Dominican Republic, Tigres del Licey. The team was managed by Tommy Lasorda.
As a regular starter for the Angels, Valentine had a strong start, leading the Angels with a .302 batting average. Four days after his 23rd birthday, he suffered a multiple compound leg fracture on May 17, 1973, at Anaheim Stadium in a game against the Oakland Athletics after his spikes got caught in the outfield's chain link fence while attempting to catch a home run ball hit by Dick Green, one of only three home runs hit by Green during the season. He missed the remainder of the 1973 season and never regained his speed as the bones did not heal properly. Two days prior to the injury, Valentine was playing center field when Nolan Ryan threw his first career No-hitter. Valentine would later be Ryan's manager in Texas for his last two No-hitters (6th and 7th). In 1974, despite still recovering from his leg injury, Valentine made 414 plate appearances, the second most of his career, and batted .261 with three home runs. On April 4, 1975, the Angels loaned him to the Charleston Charlies, a AAA Pittsburgh Pirates organization where he played in 56 games before returning to the Angels organization on June 20, 1975. He was assigned to the Angels AAA affiliate Salt Lake City Bees and played in 46 games batting .306 before being called back up to the Angels On September 17, 1975, he was traded to the San Diego Padres with Rudy Meoli for Gary Ross. On September 19, 1975, in his first game as a Padre, Valentine homered off Mike Caldwell in a 3–1 loss to the Giants.
In 1976, Valentine spent most of the season with Padres AAA affiliate, the Hawaii Islanders, playing in 120 games batting .304 with 13 home runs. On June 15, 1977, after playing 44 games with the Padres, he was part of the New York Mets infamous "Midnight Massacre", when the Mets traded Dave Kingman to San Diego for minor league pitcher Paul Siebert and Valentine, sent Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, and Dan Norman, and Mike Phillips to the St. Louis Cardinals for Joel Youngblood.
Valentine's role with the Mets became even more limited, and he was released in spring training, 1979. He signed with the Seattle Mariners shortly afterwards, and made his debut as a catcher that season. Following the season, he retired from baseball at 29 years of age.
Valentine was serving as a member of the Mets coaching staff when he was selected by the Texas Rangers to take over managing duties from Doug Rader 32 games into the 1985 season. The Rangers went 53–76 the rest of the season, finishing with an overall record of 62–99. In 1986 the Rangers finished second in the American League West with a record of 87–75, and Valentine finished second in voting for the AL Manager of the Year. The Rangers fell back into sixth place the following two seasons, and Valentine was fired by managing partner George W. Bush halfway through the 1992 season with a record of 45–41. Toby Harrah took over as manager, and led the Rangers to a 77–85 record and a fourth-place finish. Valentine finished his Rangers' managerial career with a record of 581 wins and 605 losses with no post–season appearances.
In 1989, while still managing the Rangers, Valentine worked as an on-the-field analyst for NBC's 1989 ALCS coverage alongside Bob Costas and Tony Kubek.
In 1994, Valentine managed the Mets' Triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides, to a 67–75 record, and finished fourth in the five-team West Division of the International League.
In 1995, Valentine began his first stint as manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Japanese Pacific League. That season, the team surprised most Japanese baseball fans by finishing in second place (69–58–3); the Marines had not won the Japanese Pacific league pennant since 1974. However, he was fired abruptly due to a personal conflict with general manager Tatsuro Hirooka, despite having a two-year contract.
Valentine returned to the Norfolk Tides in 1996, managing them to an 82–59 record and second place in the International League's West Division. He then was promoted to manager of the Mets with 31 games left in the 1996 season, and led them to a 12–19 record the rest of the way.
Over the next two seasons, Valentine led a Mets resurgence, finishing 14 games over .500 (88–74) both years. In the 12th inning of a 14-inning marathon against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 9, 1999, Valentine was ejected by home plate umpire Randy Marsh for arguing a catcher's interference call against Mike Piazza. Valentine returned to the dugout an inning later disguised with sunglasses and a fake moustache made from eye black. The Mets went on to win the game 4–3, and Major League Baseball fined Valentine $5,000 and suspended him for two games.
Valentine led the Mets to a record of 97–66 and a wild card playoff berth that season. The Mets defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks in four games (3–1) en route to the National League Championship Series, where they eventually lost to their division rival the Atlanta Braves in six games (4–2).
In early 2000, Valentine allegedly mentioned to students at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business somewhat cynical, insider comments regarding a handful of Mets players and the organization as a whole. The incident was called "The Whartongate Affair". That year Valentine returned as Mets manager, finishing with a 94–68 record and another wild card playoff berth. This time the Mets were successful in winning the National League pennant, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2000 National League Championship Series in five games (4–1). The Mets lost the 2000 World Series to their crosstown rivals the New York Yankees in five games (4–1).
On July 14, 2001, Valentine won his 1,000th game as manager, doing so against the Boston Red Sox in his 1,958th game as manager.
Valentine won the 2002 Branch Rickey Award for his donations and personal work with survivors of the September 11 attacks. Valentine had an uneasy, if not volatile relationship with general manager Steve Phillips, who fired three of Valentine's coaches and selected the replacements himself during the 1999 season (in a move many observers felt was an attempt to get Valentine to quit) and eventually fired him after the 2002 season. He finished his Mets managerial career with a record of 536 wins and 467 losses.
In 2004, Valentine rejoined the Chiba Lotte Marines as manager, and in 2005 led the Marines to their first Pacific League pennant since 1974 following a close playoff with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. On October 26, 2005, the Marines won the Japan Series in a four-game sweep of the Hanshin Tigers. The next day Valentine issued a challenge to the World Series champion Chicago White Sox on behalf of the Marines, calling for a series to be played between the American and Japanese championship teams.
Following their Japan Series championship, the Marines won the inaugural Asia Series by defeating the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization in November 2005. Valentine aided in bringing innovative promotions to Japan, which doubled Marine attendance during his tenure. Some of these gimmicks, like allowing children to run the bases after games or dedicated autograph sessions, are common in America but were unseen in Japan; others, such as Valentine hosting dance classes for female fans, played on the manager's personal appeal (and his history—Valentine was a competition ballroom dancer in his youth). In 2008, Valentine was the subject of the ESPN Films documentary The Zen of Bobby V., which followed Valentine and his 2007 Marines team. The Zen of Bobby V. was an official selection at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. The Marines let Valentine go after the 2009 season after an extensive smear campaign led by club president Ryuzo Setoyama, which ironically backfired and resulted in an overflow of support for Valentine by local fans. In the end, Valentine was fired, even though a petition to extend his contract was presented to the organization with 112,000 signatures.
Valentine accepted a position as a baseball analyst for ESPN. He had previously appeared on the cable network's Baseball Tonight show in 2003. He made his broadcasting debut for the 2009 American and National League Championship Series and World Series.
In late 2009, Valentine was a candidate to replace Eric Wedge as manager of the Cleveland Indians, however the job went to Manny Acta.
Valentine continued working with ESPN for the 2010 MLB season. He was interviewed for the Baltimore Orioles managerial position after manager Dave Trembley was fired in early June; Valentine later withdrew his name from consideration. Valentine was considered a front runner for the Florida Marlins managerial position that opened after manager Fredi González was fired in late June. However, Valentine confirmed he was no longer a candidate for the position after Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria stated that Edwin Rodríguez, the interim manager they summoned to replace Gonzalez, would manage the team through the 2010 season. With the firing of the New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel at the end of the 2010 season, Valentine had been speculated by the local New York sports media of returning to the team. It was also reported that the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners had interviewed Valentine for their open managerial job. Valentine was interviewed by the Milwaukee Brewers for their managerial opening in October 2010. He was believed to be a finalist along with Bob Melvin, Joey Cora, and Ron Roenicke. The position eventually went to Angels bench coach Roenicke.
On December 1, 2010, Valentine, Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman were named as ESPN's new Sunday Night Baseball crew for the 2011 MLB season. In June 2011, news outlets reported that Valentine was once again a candidate for the Florida Marlins managerial position after the ballclub free fell in the standings. That did not come to fruition, however, as the Marlins hired former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén.
On November 21, 2011, Bobby met with the Boston Red Sox for a formal interview for the open manager's position, and on November 29, it was reported that he would be the new Red Sox manager and the successor to Terry Francona. Valentine was introduced by Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington on December 2, 2011, and chose to wear number 25 in honor of the late Tony Conigliaro, with whom he briefly roomed during spring training 1976 with the San Diego Padres.
Valentine's first and only season with Boston was marred by injuries, public feuds with players, run-ins with the media, and a tumultuous relationship with his coaches. Under Valentine's management, the 2012 Red Sox finished last in the AL East at 69–93, their worst record in 47 years. Valentine was fired by the Red Sox on October 4, 2012, just one day after the conclusion of the regular season.
Awards and honors
- Elected to the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame (1986)
- New Jersey Sports Writers Association "Sports Humanitarian of the Year" (2001)
Valentine was married to Mary Branca, the daughter of former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca and together they have a son. They separated in 2011 and later divorced in October 2021. He is currently in a relationship with a Japanese woman named Junko Ogino who he met in 1995 and became romantically involved with in 2007 while still married to Mary Branca.