A star in baseball and football, Valentine was widely recruited out of Rippowam High School in Stamford, Conn. He attended USC and was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the No. 5 pick in the 1968 Amateur Draft.
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Valentine spent parts of 10 seasons in the majors with the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Mets and Mariners. Primarily an infielder, Valentine's career was derailed by a broken leg sustained when his spikes caught the chain link fence at Anaheim Stadium in 1973 as he tried to catch a home run. Valentine finished with a .260 career batting average, 12 homers and 157 RBIs.
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In 1985, Valentine was third base coach for the New York Mets when the Texas Rangers hired him 32 games into the season to be their manager. At 35, he was the youngest manager in the majors. After eight up-and-down seasons, Valentine was fired by managing partner George W. Bush halfway through the 1992 season.
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In 1995, Valentine went to Japan to manage the Chiba Lotte Marines, the first American to make such a move. Despite a second-place finish, he was fired due to conflicts with the team's general manager.
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Valentine returned to the U.S. in 1996, taking over the Mets' Triple-A affiliate. He was named manager of the New Yor Mets with 31 games left in the season. New York finished 88-74 each of the next two seasons, and in 1999 they finished 97-66 to win the NL wild card. In 2000, the Mets reached the World Series. Things went downhill from there. After quarreling with GM Steve Phillips for most of his time in New York, Valentine was fired after the 2002 season.
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One of Valentine's most memorable moments came in 1999, when he was ejected in the 12th inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays for arguing a catcher's interference call. Instead of watching the rest of the game from the clubhouse, Valentine returned to the dugout with a fake mustache, sunglasses and Mets t-shirt on. The Mets won 4-3, but he was suspended three games by MLB and fined $5,000.
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Valentine returned to Japan after his time with the Mets and won a championship in 2005 with the Marines, something the team had not done in 31 years. He was let go after the 2009 season after a smear campaign by the team's GM, but Valentine was such a fan favorite in Japan, fans protested the move.
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Valentine returned to Connecticut to work for ESPN, most recently as an analyst on Sunday Night Baseball.
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The 61-year-old replaced Terry Francona, who left after eight years in which he guided the Red Sox to two World Series titles but also the biggest September collapse in baseball history. The first job for the former Mets and Rangers manager: reversing a culture in which players ate takeout fried chicken and drank beer in the clubhouse during games instead of sitting on the bench with their teammates.
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