Friday, July 17, 2009

TTM: Bobby Valentine

I mail off a lot of my old doubles to try and get them signed. Some of you will remember this. Well I just got back one that I didn't believe I would. I'm very excited to add him to my collection. Mr fake glasses and mustache himself......Bobby Valentine.

Bobby was born May 13, 1950 in Stamford, Connecticut. He attended both USC and Arizona State University. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1969. The very same year one of his future teams, both playing and managing, had their "Miracle" season. Over a 10 year playing career he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels, San Diego Padres, New York Mets and the Seattle Mariners. In his first season with the Angels he immediately became an offensive star, hitting over .350 in his first month as a starter. Valentine was the Angels' shortstop, but in May temporarily shifted to center field. However, on May 17, 1973, Valentine was a victim of one of the most gruesome injuries during that era when he suffered a multiple compound leg fracture at Anaheim Stadium when his spikes got caught in the outfield's chain link fence while attempting to catch a home run ball hit by Dick Green. He missed the rest of the season and was never quite the same after that.

He began his managerial career in Texas with The Rangers. His most successful season with them was 1986 when they finished 2nd in the AL West. He was fired in 1992. In 1995 Valentine began his first stint as manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines. The team surprised all of Japan by finishing 2nd that year. However due to a dispute with the teams General Manager, Valentine was fired at the end of the season. From here its was back to the states and joining the Mets organization. He started by managing the Norfolk Tides but was "called up" to manage the big club in 1996. In 1999 he lead the Mets to a wild card berth which saw them defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks but then lose the League Championship to division rivals, the Atlanta Braves. 1999 was also the year in which he was discovered to have sneaked back into the team dugout after being ejected, by wearing a disguise consisting of a change of clothes, sunglasses, and a "mustache" painted on his upper lip with eye black. One of the funniest moments in Mets history. Here's a video of Bobby telling the tale, along with a picture.

He was fired by the Mets in 2002 and began his 2nd stint with the Chiba Lotte Marines in 2004 where he manages to this day. Thanks for the auto Bobby V, just wish it was a Mets card.

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