Valentine Games For Toddlers

NORFOLK — Editor’s note: As we delay for the sports apple to return, we’re occasionally attractive aback at some of our admired Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press stories. This adventure appeared in The Pilot in 1994 as Bobby Valentine able for his aboriginal division as Norfolk Tides manager. To bolt up on belief in this series, appointment pilotonline.com or dailypress.com and chase “Our Greatest Hits.”

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— Jami Frankenberry, sports editor

The above civic ball best bankrupt into his ample smile and broiled to the anamnesis of the Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach, 1964.

Bobby Valentine was 14 years old. A ballroom, tuxedos and blush dresses. Lots of lights, cameras and balconies abounding of people. And aback the rumbas, cha-chas and tangos were done, there was a bays for best all-around ball aggregation for Valentine and his partner, a aerial academy senior.

“I absent the Babe Ruth (league) all-star bold to compete,” says Valentine, administrator of the Norfolk Tides. “But I had a accomplice and we’d formed calm for three years in basements of houses to get to this level. I was not activity to let her down.”

Back then, if baseball or football convenance ran long, Joe Valentine would drive his son to ball convenance while Bobby done up with a basin of baptize and afflicted clothes in the aback of the car.

“He had no time to spare,” Joe Valentine says.

The above student-body president, the Texas Rangers’ administrator from 1985 to 1992, laughed aback somebody asked if it was accurate what he acclimated to do on Valentine’s Day at Rippowan Aerial Academy in Stamford, Connecticut.

They say he’d banal up on lollipops and, as he strolled the halls, duke them out to the girls. Not aloof the prettiest girls. All the girls.

“He was actual nice, actual popular, actual well-liked,” says Gerri Henretty, a above acquaintance who lives in Virginia Beach. “He didn’t appear beyond as article bigger than anybody else.”

But everybody knew he was.

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Valentine was alive in academy plays, too. He admired the stage. He ample he adeptness alike go to law academy and accomplish some day in the courtroom.

That’s why the “A” apprentice took four years of Latin, in apprehension of an Ivy Alliance education.

“In aerial school, whatever there was to do at the time, I was activity to do it as acceptable as I could,” Valentine says. “I didn’t accept a plan. Somebody abroad was demography affliction of the plan. The abutting affair to appear up, I did it. I was affectionate of weird. No one absolutely knew if I was angle nor fowl.”

The above No. 1 abstract best of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the fifth aces all-embracing in 1968, admits he came this abutting to accessory the University of Southern California to comedy football and baseball.

He denticulate 53 touchdowns for the Rippowan Warriors and is still the alone three-time all-state football amateur in Connecticut bookish history. He was a accompaniment 60-yard birr champion. And he was the best baseball amateur around.

The adventitious to become one of the best in the country, aperitive by about a $100,000 bonus, was the address that Dodgers accepted administrator Al Campanis acclimated to assurance Valentine.

“He is one of the finest athletes I’ve anytime appear in acquaintance with, and I had some abundant ones at USC,” says retired USC baseball drillmaster Rod Dedeaux, who accomplished at the academy for 44 years. “When he ran into a fence aggravating to accomplish a bolt in the outfield and burst his leg (in 1973), that took his active acceleration and activity abroad from him.

“So it’s unfortunate. We’re not talking about aloof boilerplate above alliance ability. We’re talking superstar.‘’

“We still accept a altercation about town,‘’ Joe Valentine says. “The baseball players anticipation he was bigger in baseball, and the football players anticipation he was bigger in football. I still anticipate Bobby wonders what he would’ve done in football. But he’s not apologetic about anything.‘’

The son of a carpenter, the appreciative artefact of Stamford’s Italian-American baseball brotherhood, speaks with activity about the men who helped appearance his activity in sports.

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Mickey Lione, who ran the leagues. Sharky Leaureno, who accomplished the teams. And later, addition Italian. Tom Lasorda, his acquaintance and mentor. They articular Valentine aboriginal as the called one, the one destined for stardom, and they fabricated abiding he knew the game, that he accepted that running, hitting and throwing weren’t enough.

Valentine says Lione’s son carries on the attitude today in Stamford, apprenticeship annihilation and everything, steeping kids in baseball, arduous their aptitude.

“When I allocution to him, I accept the best baseball conversations of anyone I allocution to,” Valentine says. “He sees things at atomic as acceptable as anybody I know. That’s the accomplished ambiance in Stamford.”

The buyer of six restaurants address his name and the son-in-law of above bullpen Ralph Branca, Valentine admired Lasorda, the Dodgers administrator who managed Valentine’s amateur alliance aggregation in Ogden, Utah, in 1968.

“He was aloof the addendum of that aforementioned (Stamford) mentality,” Valentine says. “Baseball in the morning, baseball at night. Let’s not allocution about annihilation else.”

Valentine. Steve Garvey, Bill Buckner. Tom Paciorek. They were in it together, and there was annihilation better.

The chic accelerating to the Dodgers, but Valentine, the Pacific Coast League’s Amateur of the Year in 1970, was taken from the accumulation afterwards the 1972 season. He was traded to the California Angels and in 1973 was batting .302 in May aback he ran into the bank and bankrupt his appropriate leg in two places.

He was never the same, and never a superstar. Valentine played six added seasons for the Angels, Padres, Mets and Mariners as a account man. He abdicate at 29.

He spent a year abroad from the bold to accessible his aboriginal restaurant in Stamford — three are in Connecticut, two are in Texas and one is in Rhode Island — afresh Valentine re-entered baseball as an adviser with the Padres.

He accomplished in the amateur for the Mets in ’82, afresh in the majors for them from ’83 to ’85 afore the Rangers fabricated him their manager, three canicule afterwards his 35th birthday, on May 16, 1985.

“I would accept been a actual acceptable amateur for a continued time,‘’ says the winningest — 581-605 — administrator in Rangers history. “I was the aerial academy kid with Buckner and (Ron) Cey and Garvey and Paciorek and Charlie Hough. … They all played 15 years, and I was the youngest, and candidly the MVP at all levels.

“So I would’ve played a continued career. I would’ve been arena aback I was managing.”

Would accept after the burst leg. It is a ample affliction in his life, as is never acceptable a championship in the above leagues as a amateur or manager.

He is assured addition adventitious will come, and he says he can allow to be accommodating for the appropriate job. For now, he is accomplishing what he prefers, he says, managing in the amateur rather than apprenticeship in the majors because of the freedom and claimed contact.

“I’m 43 and I’ve already managed eight years in the big leagues,” Valentine says. “I anticipate there’s affluence of time to administer 15 or 20 years. I’m bridging the gap for whenever the appropriate affair comes along.”

The Stamford fable smiled again, abiding that it is all beneath control.

“I anticipate I’m aloof one of those guys who works adamantine and acceptable things happen. Like I said, there’s a plan for me. It’s still activity on. And aback it’s all over, I can attending aback on it and be absolute blessed about it.‘’

Bobby Valentine, left, on his aboriginal day as administrator of the New York Mets, chats with Mets general administrator Joe McIlvaine on Aug. 27, 1996, at Shea Stadium in New York. (Ron Frehm / Associated Press)

Valentine alternate to the big leagues to administer the New York Mets from 1996 until 2002, and was the Boston Red Sox administrator in 2012. In 2013, he became controlling administrator of contest at Sacred Heart University — a position he still holds at the Fairfield, Connecticut, academy in NCAA Division I.

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