Hartford umpires host Bobby Valentine

By John Karas

Courtesy of The Windsor Locks Journal

On Friday, November 1st, the Hartford Chapter of Approved Baseball Umpires had a special guest speaker at their end of year banquet that was held at Maneeley’s in South Windsor:Connecticut’s own Bobby Valentine. Former WLHS Baseball coach, and current Hartford board umpire Mike Barile, made the arrangements for Bobby’s visit.

“I first met Bobby in the mid 70’s when I was playing All- Army baseball for Uncle Sam,” Barile said, “and at the time he was playing for the San Diego Padres AAA affiliate, the Hawaii Islanders. He is a class act. I always remember the few minutes in 1976 that two ball players from Connecticut spent talking baseball from second base at Aloha Stadium. To a then, 19 year old infantry soldier – that meant the world to me.”

Bobby captivated equally the 125 plus umpires and guests in attendance on November 1st.

A former first round draft pick out of the University of Southern California by the Los Angeles Dodgers, his career has been impressive. He also played for the Angels, Padres, and retired at 29 with the Seattle Mariners. Bobby’s managerial career included stints with the Texas Rangers, Norfolk Tides, New York Mets, and the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan. His broadcast career included “Sunday Night Baseball”, and “ Baseball Tonight”, for ESPN as an analyst in 2009 and 2010.

Barile said that the true measure of a good manager is the difficult decisions he has to make.

“Last December, Bobby was hired by the Red Sox to restore order to a team and clubhouse that had discipline issues, and had faltered during the stretch run that year,” he recalled. “Never one to forsake a challenge, Bobby made some tough decisions that eventually led to a major trade with the LA Dodgers. That trade freed up millions of dollars in salary, and allowed GM Ben Charrington to sign several free agents during the offseason. Those signings had a direct input into the 2013 World Championship club. Managing at the major league level for the Red Sox, (and facing the Red Sox nation) has high expectations. Society tends to judge people by how they see us in those type of roles. So feelings are developed, based on those roles. Unfortunately, they really don’t know the person.”

The guests attending the banquet had the opportunity to meet Bobby the man, not the manager. Bobby V. wears his heart on his sleeve, and his charisma,and insight, was felt by all in attendance.

Barile said that everyone in attendance appreciated the fact that Valentine took time off from his new job to speak to the group’s membership.

“His clinics every year in January at the Coaches Clinic at Mohegan Sun, always drew large crowds,” he noted. “His few short emails to me from Japan, when coach Farr and I managed back-to-back state championships in 2005 and 2006 at Windsor Locks meant the world. As I said, he is a class act. I remember that horrific day of 9-11 in New York, and seeing Bobby and Met representatives at ground zero. (Bobby was later awarded the 2002 Branch Rickey Award for his uplifting efforts, donations, and contributions during a very difficult time in Americas history.)

On behalf of our membership, and our board president, Barry Chasen, we want to thank Bobby Valentine for making our event very special. Bobby, whenever you are “up North”, in Connecticut, stop by at a High School or Legion ball game and say hello. You are always welcome.”

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