GQ: Once 'the Most Hated Man in Baseball,' Bobby Valentine is Enjoying Rock Star Status in Japan

Says, 'I don't have visions of grandeur. Okay, I have visions of small


May 17, 2004, 01:00 ET from GQ

    NEW YORK, May 17 /PRNewswire/ -- In the June 2004 issue of GQ, special
 correspondent Peter Richmond catches up with Bobby Valentine, once  "the most
 hated man in baseball." Valentine, who in 1995 was the first American manager
 ever to steward a Japanese team, and who was fired after seven years with the
 Texas Rangers, is now back at home in Japan as the coach of the Chiba Lotte
 Marines, whose first game was a come-from-behind victory that sent the devoted
 oendan--a 2,000 strong bleacher section that unfurled a Bobby banner they'd
 kept in storage since he last appeared there in 1995--into a lathered frenzy.
 Valentine tells Richmond, "I don't have visions of grandeur ... Okay, I have
 visions of small grandeur."
     Richmond goes behind the scenes with Valentine's three lifelong friends,
 none of whom a year ago were remotely connected to the game: hitting coach Tom
 Robson, team statistician Paul Pupo, and first base coach Frank Ramppen, who
 comprise the strangest coaching staff on the planet.  Highlights of the piece
     On being fired from the Mets: "I would have fired me, too.  That last
 year, I sucked.  I really sucked.  That was as bad a performance as I've ever
 turned in.  Maybe 30 percent of the decisions I made were the right ones.  My
 sermons weren't very good.  Maybe I wasn't even capable of giving the proper
     On Japanese baseball: "I kind of like that I can tell a guy to hit ten
 straight balls into right field in batting practice, and if he doesn't, he
 comes over to me afterward and apologizes ... I like that."
     On the clairvoyant who watches the team practice from the stands:  "This
 guy I know brought him as a gift.  He's never seen a baseball game.  Maybe he
 thinks this is the game." After practice, the man summons Bobby to a room in
 the bowels of the stadium. Richmond writes, "Through their interpreters, the
 man reveals what he's seen:  Number 50 needs to be coaxed out of his cocoon
 ... Number 1 doesn't know the plays.  Number 9 isn't focusing.  Bobby is
 intrigued." Later, Valentine confirms everything the clairvoyant has suggested
 to him.
     On living in Japan:  "Looking at this place convinces me the world can be
 saved.  A country of 140 million people with no litter and no trash cans!"
     A day in the life of Bobby Valentine:  "At six-fifteen I'm surfing the
 Internet.  At seven I'm in the sauna, looking out at Mount Fuji.  Then I bike
 to the ballpark.  Then, when I get to the ballpark, thirty guys are waiting
 for me to have a two-hour practice that we all really get into.  Then we have
 a game, and we win it.  So for three hours, I get to run around shouting and
 having a blast.  I'd say that's a really enjoyable day."
     Peter Richmond's piece, "Odd Man In," is in the June 2004 issue of GQ, on
 newsstands nationwide Tuesday, May 25. GQ is the leading men's
 general-interest magazine and part of the Conde Nast Publications, Inc.