[Note: Want your photos and/or write-ups from Stratford youth or recreational sports featured on Stratford Patch? ]
When was hired to manage the Red Sox in December, the response in Boston was akin to the reaction in New York after the Jets traded for "No, way!", "He won't be a good fit here", "What the heck is management doing?", were some of the milder statements made by the Boston faithful. Valentine, like Tebow is a polarizing figure, he is loved , yet harshly criticized by many for the simple fact that he is Bobby Valentine, a man who's had incredible success from the time he first laced up his cleats as a kid growing up in
On April 5, Valentine will put on his cleats once again, this time as He hasn't filled out a line-up card in the major leagues in nine years, but for those who really know him, Valentine is sure to be a big hit in Boston.
"Absolutely, he's going to be a success with the Red Sox," said Frank Ramppen of Stamford, who has known for more than 30 years. "Bobby is a very smart man and he will get the most out of that team."
Ramppen was Valentine's bench coach for six years in Japan, he managed and currently oversees Bobby V's baseball facility in the same town where both grew up. He's heard the criticism of his friend and mentor being everything from being arrogant to self-absorbed, but feels all those people are misguided.
"Players love playing for Bobby," said Ramppen, who reached AA in his professional baseball career. "He's passionate about the game and he's energetic. If you're a player, why wouldn't you want to play for a guy like him? I've heard the things people have said about him over the years, but it usually comes from people who have an ax to grind or don't really know him. He's not anything like some of things that are said about him."
After the Red Sox historic collapse last September, manager Terry Francona stepped down amid reports that he lost control of the clubhouse and his team. Valentine wasn't even on the club's radar when the search for Francona's replacement began, but the owners became convinced that Bobby V was the perfect man for the job.
"There's nobody like him," Dennis Eckersley, the Hall of Fame pitcher and baseball analyst for TBS and NESN, told Patch. "This guy has guts and he's not afraid of telling the players what they need to do and he certainly has an opinion on everything. Given what went on last September, I think Valentine was a good hire for the Red Sox."
Valentine is bold and brash, his critics say the new Red Sox manager thinks he's smarter than everyone else in the game. One basball executive, who declined to be identified, told Patch, "I'm glad the Red Sox have him and not us. I think he might rub some of the veterans on that team the wrong way."
However, Valentine's supporters think he'll be the perfect tonic for players who sometimes feel suffocated in a town where baseball is king and the media is relentless.
"Bobby will say things to take the pressure off the players and put it squarely on him," said Ramppen. "That is done by design. He knows what he's doing." Added Eckersley, "This is the first time the Red Sox have ever had a celebrity manager and someone with Valentine's personality. It's not easy playing in Boston and I think the players will appreciate his presence and having Valentine takes some of the heat off them."
Valentine, who previously managed the and Texas Rangers in his career, has already gotten under the skin of Yankees fans by taking a few digs at Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriquez. As someone who managed in the media capital of the world and was an analyst for ESPN, Valentine knows how to use the media to his advantage. And we know this about Bobby V, he's not afraid of anything.
"Bobby's been a success at everything that he's done," said Ramppen. "He looks for new challenges every day and tries to get better at what he's doing. I think he's learned some things since managing the Mets, but he's not going to change much. Bobby is who he is."
Added Eckersley, "I think he's going to do great in Boston. He's not afraid to stir the pot and challenge his players. He's a big personality and it should be interesting."