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Today is truly Bobby Valentine’s day

February 14, 2022 Andy Furman
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It’s Valentine’s Day.

 And it’s  only proper we speak to the man with the name of the Day.

Bobby Valentine.

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You may remember him as Manager of the New York Mets.

He’s also  author of his new book – Valentine’s Way – with Peter Golenbock.

But today, we ask Mr. Valentine, well, ‘What do you do on Valentine’s Day?’

“I always had flowers delivered to the house,” Bobby told the Eagle from his Stamford, Conn. Sports Academy. “It was great – and it certainly put a smile on my face.”

In high school,” he added, “I brought heart-shaped lollypops in for the girls.”

Yes, America Bobby Valentine does have a heart.

In fact, he was quite the ballroom dancer.

He was all set to attend Stamford High, but when Cloonan closed in 1964, the students were dispersed to other schools, he wrote in Valentine’s Way.

“The ninth-graders were split between two high schools – Stamford High and Rippowam,” he wrote.

The other option was Stamford Catholic High, but the entrance test fell on the same day as the international ballroom dance championships in Miami, Florida.

Bobby Valentine. Photo courtesy of Andy Furman

“I chose to dance in the competition,” Valentine said. “The nun in charge of testing would not reschedule, thus the decision was made for me to go to public high school.”

In fact, he won a regional competition with his partner at the Waldorf-Astoria and took part in the opening ceremonies of the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

Rippowam was the winner. He was an All-State player in football, baseball and track.

He set state records for career touchdowns (53), career interceptions for touchdowns (5) and the 60-yard dash.

“I was really a straight shooter in high school,” he said. “Oh yeah, I remember we once got into an egg fight.”

That was a surprise – in between football, baseball, dancing, track and AP courses – how did he even find the time?

Life changed when he turned 18 –two things happened. First, he made his professional debut playing with the Ogden Dodgers of the Rookie Pioneer League; and second – he met Tommy Lasorda, who was his manager.

“Tommy was involved with his team 24/7,” Valentine recalled. “At home we’d have early practice. Tommy would take a few of us out early. In the morning, he’d throw batting practice for an hour. Then we’d go back and get lunch, maybe take a nap before going back to take batting practice and play a game that night.”

Perhaps confidence trumps talent in sports – who knows? But Tommy Lasorda instilled that in Bobby Valentine, when he was moved from the outfield to shortstop.

“I was throwing the ball into the stands more often than not,” Valentine said. “One time I hit a lady in the face and broke her cheekbone.”

That wasn’t the only problem. —seems the pitching staff at Ogden didn’t want to pitch if Valentine was at short.

Enter Lasorda.

“I remember he called everyone in the clubhouse when he got wind of the news,” Valentine said. 

“I just got the news that some of you guys don’t like what’s going on around here. Sit at your locker and think about it for a second. I’ll be right out,” Lasorda said in Valentine’s Way.

Lasorda went into his office and put on his uniform. He reappeared to his 22 players and started marching again.

Then Lasorda said: “Well, I’m going to tell you what we’re going to do. Not only is this kid (Valentine) going to play shortstop, but everybody in this room, right now, when I go back to my office, is going to stand in front of this f—in’ guy’s locker, and you’re going to have a pencil and paper in your hand, and you’re going to get his f—in’ autograph, because when you’re all home carrying a lunch bucket, he’s going to be playing in the big leagues, and you’re going to tell your friends that you played with him. And the only proof you’re going to have is the autograph you’re going to get today.”

Valentine: “I looked up, saw their spikes, and signed them all.”

Valentine played parts of 10 seasons with the Mariners, Mets, Padres, Angels and Dodgers.

As a major league manager—at the age of 35 — he won 1,186 games in 16 seasons with the Texas Rangers, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox. His two pennant-winning seasons came with the Mets and Red Sox.

As for his book, he says he wasn’t doing much during Covid.

“Peter (Golenbock) knew me, and knew my career,” he said, “I picked up the phone and away we went.”

He just signed on to be a brand ambassador for Rush Street Interactive Inc., the Chicago-based gaming and betting company.

And now for the really important news.

What’s Bobby Valentine got planned for his day – Valentine’s Day?

“Nothing yet,” he said, “I’ll make something.”

Wanna bet?

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR


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