It was November of 1967. Rippowam High was
playing Stamford Catholic for the Connecticut state high school football
championship. Rippowam had the greatest running back in state history
and was favored to win. Stamford Catholic, coached by Bob Horan (who
later was an assistant coach at Harvard) prevailed 16-12.
were excited when the game ended, there was a lot of commotion on the
field and we celebrated after the win," Horan told me recently. "The
next morning I open my front door to retrieve the Sunday paper and there
was an envelope stuck in the door. Inside was a note from Rippowam's
all-state running back, whom we defeated," recalled Horan.
read, "Dear Coach, I'm sorry I didn't come over and shake your hand
after our loss and your win. I was so upset that I didn't want to talk
to anyone. After I got home I realized I was wrong and want to
congratulate you and your team on your victory."
It was signed by Bobby Valentine.
"Imagine a seventeen-year-old kid taking the time to write such a letter and drop it off at the opposing coach's house?"
I asked Bobby about that and he told me he remembered it well. "I think my mother made me do it," he said while smiling.
values are still with him today. He is trying to restore accountability
to the Red Sox. I watched him for an entire week and he never stood
still moving from field to field (there are six of them) at the Red Sox
new spring training home.
In the clubhouse there are six TV's
that hang from the ceiling (three facing each side of the locker room.)
One has the workout schedule for the day, the others have video from
hundreds of major league games but they have been edited. They show over
and over again pitchers fielding bunts properly, pitchers covering
first base, pitchers picking off runners, outfielders throwing to the
proper cutoff man, batters laying down successful bunts and catchers
throwing out potential base stealers.
"If they are going to
watch TV in the clubhouse, I don't want them watching SportsCenter, I
think if they see a successful play over and over again I'm hoping that
it may rub off on them when they are presented with a similar situation
in a game," explained Valentine. "I want our guys to be prepared for
every situation that could come up so that when it happens, they react
and don't have to think 'what should I do now'?"
He still has
the energy he had when he was scoring 63 touchdowns for Rippowam High
School, setting the state record for the 60 yard dash, serving as
president of the student council and performing for the school drama
club. Bobby Valentine's 2012 Red Sox club will not be out-prepared nor
outworked and those are values that are ageless.