Luck in life is a huge factor according to Bobby Valentine. He pointed out that he grew up in modest circumstances to loving parents who nurtured his athletic ambitions, but his mother also insisted that he pursue some cultural interests. She gave him the choice of singing or dancing. Bobby chose dancing and became so proficient at it that he won an international competition in Miami. Another break came when his middle school closed and he became part of the first 9th grade class to attend high school. This allowed him to learn the football plays on the team, which led to his becoming a varsity player in his sophomore year and an all-state running back.
Bobby’s luck continued in his junior high school year when a coach who had just been selected to coach a Cape Cod baseball team saw Bobby play in a game because the coach had been invited to an Andy Robustelli dinner and then invited to spend the night and watch a high school baseball game the next day. At that game Bobby played and did sensationally, which led the coach to invite him to play with the Cape Cod team in the summer. These breaks eventually led to his becoming a first round draft choice for the L.A. Dodgers where he again became a star.
Q. In an old “Back to the Future” movie there was a line that the Cubs would win the World Series in 2015. What do you think of their chances?
A. the Cubs have a great team, but I hope they don’t win over the Mets. I would love to see a Mets vs Cubs game.
Q. How did you deal with your injuries?
A. My player career ending injury occurred when I was asked to fill in as a center fielder instead of playing my usual shortstop position. I ran into the wall going after a ball and broke my leg. The leg never healed right and my old coach and friend Tommy Lasorda told me that in spite of my optimism that I could still play as well as ever, I was done as a player. That started me thinking of becoming a full-time coach. I had done some coaching as a player so it was a natural transition.
Q. How did you deal with getting fired and adjusting to Japanese culture?
A. First of all let me say that the Japanese attitude toward baseball is great. It is their favorite sport. They put 50,000 people in the stands for every game and have three papers dedicated to just covering baseball. I had to adapt to the food and get used to the different culture. As an example, I wanted the team I coached to become more aggressive and steal home once in a while. So, I told the team they had a permanent “green light” to steal. In the next few games no steal attempts were made. I asked why and was told they didn’t know what a “green light” meant. Upon further inquiry, I learned that to them a “blue light” meant go not a green light so I changed my instruction to giving them a “blue light”. I went on to learn Japanese so I could further assimilate into the culture.
Q. How did Theo Epstein escape from the RedSox?
A. Theo was the product of a practice started by Everett Bennett Williams of mentoring the top graduate of Harvard or Yale Law School. Theo in turn got mentored by a man who had been selected by Everett Bennett Williams who was following that same practice. This brought Theo into the RedSox organization. He left under very murky circumstances that I am not totally familiar with.
Q. How will the Mets do against the Dodgers?
A. I think that overall the Mets are a clearly superior team, but the Dodgers do have two spectacular pitchers who may pull it out for them. But my prediction is the Mets.