Why profile Valentine:
Valentine loves the limelight, and he’s now assured of it as the new manager of the Boston Red Sox.
The Boston gig is a high-profile job Valentine dearly wanted and seems well suited to handle. After all, he’s been a major league manager twice before, for the Rangers and the Mets. While dealing with New York’s pressure cooker, he twice led the Mets to wild-card playoff berths, and to the World Series once.
There could be a temptation for some Boston sportswriter to team up with Valentine to write the standard “My First Year Managing the Red Sox” tome a year from now. While that theme could yield plenty of anecdotal material, it might best serve as a jumping-off point to review Valentine’s entire life story. A spectacular high school athlete in Stamford, Conn., he earned a football scholarship to Southern Cal, but opted after graduation to pursue a baseball career. His first roommate in pro ball with the minor-league Ogden (Utah) Dodgers was none other than Bill Buckner, the player whose fielding blooper opened the door for the New York Mets to beat the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. Valentine also is linked to another major figure in baseball history – Ralph Branca – who, long before becoming Valentine’s father-in-law, gave up one of the most storied home runs ever: the 1951 Bobby Thomson shot that felled the Dodgers in a one-game playoff and led to Russ Hodges’s “The Giants win the pennant!’ radio call.
Since last managing in the majors, Valentine has enriched his baseball resume by spending six years as a manager in Japan, where he led the Chiba Lotte Marines to their first Pacific League pennant in 31 years, and by working as an analyst for ESPN.