As I have said in many of my blog postings baseball follows me wherever I go. It was Dec. 15, 2014, my wife Tara and I were at the Bradley Airport in CT, on line waiting to board our plane. The woman behind us and my wife looked at each other and thought they knew each other. It turns out that the woman was the mother of a woman who worked with Tara. We met up with all of them in FL. This led me to talk to my wife’s colleague’s husband Scott. Scott was already familiar with my book Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball. He told me of his recent encounter with Bobby Valentine. For those of you not familiar with Bobby V (as he is called) here is a brief background on him.
Bobby V was an all-state football and baseball player at Stamford’s Rippowam HS. He was selected by the LA Dodgers in the first round of the baseball amateur draft. He went on to play 10 years in the major leagues. Valentine played for the LA Dodgers;(1969, 1971–1972), CA Angels(1973–1975), NY Mets(1977 – 1978), and Seattle Mariners(1979). After retiring as an active player, he managed the Texas Rangers(1985–1992), the NY Mets (1996 2002), the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan (1995, 2004 ;2009), and Boston Red Sox (2012). He is currently Executive Director of Athletics at Sacred Heart University. He has also been a broadcaster for ESPN and currently serves as senior baseball analyst for NBC Sports. In addition, he is the owner of Bobby Valentine’s Sports Gallery Café in Stamford. He was voted by Sports Illustrated as one of the best athletes of the 20th century from CT. Bobby V was known to be a controversial baseball character. One particular incident I remember was called the disguise incident. The date was June 9, 1999. The Mets played the Toronto Blue Jays. In the 12th inning, Valentine was ejected for arguing an interference call. However, Valentine’s night was not done. As I remember, Valentine returned to the dugout wearing glasses and a fake mustache made of eye black. He earned a two-game suspension for his return to the dugout and was also fined $5,000. “I wasn’t fooling anyone with that disguise,”Valentine said, “This had absolutely nothing to do with the umpires. I did it to lighten up the team.”
Here is Scott’s story of his meeting with Bobby V.
A good friend grew-up with Bobby Valentine in Stanford and recommended we go to his new restaurant in South Windsor, CT. We were meeting friends who were departing on a late night flight. My friend has explained what an exceptional athlete Bobby was in HS. He was such a football talent, he was recruited by UCLA. However, Bobby’s love was baseball. He is a dedicated student of the game.
We entered the restaurant “Bobby V’s”, gave our name to the hostess and were lead to our table. As we were walking to the table Bobby was enjoying dinner with friends. I immediately introduced myself and explained our mutual friend. Bobby’s response was “No Shit”. After Bobby’s guests left he came over to our table. We introduced everyone to Bobby.Two members of the group wanted to learn how to bet on horses. Bobby immediately started explaining the process and took them to an OTB betting station. Bobby guided them through the process and they returned with tickets. At the table we discussed sports, his HS football prowess, the restaurant and our mutual friend. Bobby could not have been nicer. He spent at least 20 minutes with us and we immediately felt like we knew him forever.
We are looking forward our next dinner with Bobby and our friends. The girls in the picture with Bobby V are Kayla and Johanna, my friend’s daughters, holding their tickets.