The year was 1967 and Yarmouth’s new manager, Lou Lamoriello, convinced the parents of a 17-year-old Connecticut schoolboy star that their son would benefit from a season in the Cape Cod Baseball League. His argument was prophetic as Bobby Valentine turned in a solid season, batting .294 against some of the nation’s best collegiate pitchers to virtually guarantee that he would be a high choice in baseball’s amateur entry draft the following spring.
Lamoriello and Valentine will be together again at Fenway Park on June 28 when they serve as honorary captains for the West and East squads, respectively, in the 44th Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game. The two Cape League graduates will also throw out the ceremonial first pitches and will interact with the all-star players and coaches before and during the game.
Lamoriello is now president, CEO and general manager of the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils. He is a winner of three Stanley Cups and a Hockey Hall of Famer who is recognized by his peers as one of the most knowledgeable and successful executives in hockey. He assumed control of the lowly Devils in 1987 after two highly successful decades as a coach and administrator at his alma mater, Providence College. He is also a member of the Cape League Hall of Fame, having been inducted last November. He played, then managed in the Cape League from 1961 through 1967, with stops in Harwich, Orleans Bourne/Sagamore and Yarmouth.
In 1965, at age 22, he piloted Sagamore’s Canal Clouters to the Cape League championship.
After his playing career ended, Valentine managed the Texas Rangers and the New York Mets and is currently an ESPN baseball analyst. He recently returned to the United States after six years in Japan where he managed the Chiba Lotte Marines. His 2005 Marines captured the Pacific League pennant and the Japan Series for the first time in 31 years. They completed a remarkable season when they won the inaugural Asia Series by defeating the Samsung Lions of Korea.
Bobby V’s Cape League success as a teenager convinced the Los Angeles Dodgers to make him their No. 1 draft choice in 1968. He was the fifth player taken, following the New York Yankees’ selection of Thurman Munson, who won the ’67 Cape League batting championship by hitting .420 for Chatham.
Valentine advanced rapidly through the Dodgers’ minor league system and made the big club out of spring training in 1971. But the Dodgers traded him to the California Angels in 1973, where he was batting .302 until he was severely injured on May 17 when his spikes got caught in Anaheim Stadium’s chain-link outfield fence as he tried to catch a home run ball. Bobby missed the remainder of that season, the leg didn’t heal properly and he never was the same player. He was traded to San Diego at the end of the 1975 season and spent time with the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners before retiring at age 29.
Valentine’s knowledge of the game has served him well ever since, earning him major league managerial positions with the Rangers and Mets, not to mention his two tours of duty in Japanese baseball and his on-air assignments as a baseball analyst for ESPN.
Tickets to the Cape League All-Star Game are general admission and priced at only $10. They may be purchased at any Cape League ballpark, online at www.redsox.com/capecod or by calling 877-REDSOX-9. Fans with disabilities may call 877-REDSOX-9 to purchase accessible seating (while supplies last). The Red Sox’ TTY number for hearing-impaired fans is 617-226-6644