Bobby Valentine, Executive Director of Athletics at Sacred Heart University, was conferred The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by Japanese Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi, Consul General of Japan, Tuesday night. The award was presented to Valentine on behalf of Japanese Emperor Akihito at the Ambassador's residence in New York City.
Valentine received the honor for "his outstanding contributions to the development of Japanese baseball and to the advancement of friendly relations between Japan and the United States."
In 1994, Valentine became the first American to accept a management position in the Pacific League of Japan for the Chiba Lotte Marines. He returned to the states after a two-year stint, but went back to lead the Marines again from 2004-09, a tenure that included a 2005 Japan Series Championship.
Valentine co-founded the Shin Taku Juko School in Japan. The University of Southern California Business School has created a curriculum for Shin Taku Juko, which teaches values to parents and their children. The school also offers a stay-abroad program for children who lost their parents in the tsunami that devastated Japan.
As Director of Athletics, Valentine has helped to raise the visibility of Pioneer athletics over his tenure, with appearances on ESPN, SNY and other national and regional media outlets. Since his arrival on campus he has spearheaded numerous projects to better Pioneer Athletics. The University is currently constructing a new athletic and recreation center to be named in Bobby's honor, scheduled to open next summer. His mantra "Instruct, Inspire, Inform" can be seen in the leadership he has shown at SHU, including the hiring of the program's first-ever strength and conditioning coach, the construction of a brand-new Student-Athlete Enhancement Center and the addition of women's rugby to varsity status. In support of the new strength and conditioning coach, Valentine directed a $150,000 renovation of the weight room with state-of-the-art Hammer Strength equipment for use by varsity athletes and the general student population.
Under his watch, Valentine has overseen the installation of Daktronic video and scoreboards for Campus Field and the Pitt Center, replacement of the playing surface on Campus Field, as well as its surrounding track. The lobby of the Pitt Center boasts a brand-new look, with a trophy case containing the numerous trophies the Pioneers have won over the years, and new athletic branding. The basketball court, named in Dave Bike's honor in February 2014, as well as the Pioneer tennis courts and Pitt Center lobby have been rebranded as well. The football team received a locker room renovation preceding the 2014 campaign, as have both the men's and women's lacrosse locker rooms.
Valentine is a Connecticut native, growing up in Stamford where he was the only three-time All-State football player in state history at Rippowam High School. One of the best athletes from Connecticut of the 20th century, as voted by Sports Illustrated, he planned on pursuing a college football career at USC, but was selected fifth in the first round of the 1968 amateur baseball draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Valentine made his MLB debut September 2, 1969, versus the New York Mets, a club he would go on to manage.
All told, Valentine spent 10 seasons in the major leagues, playing for the Dodgers, San Diego Padres, California Angels, Mets and Seattle Mariners. He appeared in 639 games and hit .260 over the course of his career. Valentine played every position on the field, except pitcher, during his career, showing versatility that has served him well since his final appearance in the show on September 30, 1979.
After his playing career, Valentine remained in baseball as a third-base coach for the Mets. He made his major league managerial debut in 1985 with the Texas Rangers, earning UPI American League Manager of the Year honors in 1986 and went onto become the winningest manager in Rangers history. Valentine took over the Mets in 1996 and led the squad to back-to-back postseasons, including a 2000 World Series appearance. Including a season at the helm of the Boston Red Sox in 2012, Valentine has 1,186 major league managerial victories under his belt.