BROOKLINE — If Bobby Valentine says he was the one who invented the wrap, Andy Pomper, owner of the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse in Brookline, isn’t going to be the one to doubt him.
‘’If Bobby says he invented the wrap, so be it,’’ Pomper said.
Instead, Pomper is paying homage to the new Red Sox manager by creating a new menu item in Valentine’s honor. The ‘’Bobby V Wrap’’ will be added to the menu for this season, Pomper said, optimistically adding, ‘’and hopefully thereafter.’’
Pomper grins when he looks at it.
The fried 8-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast.
‘’Perfectly golden brown,’’ he said.
The sliced iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, two chopped sliced dill pickles, all held together by a homemade honey mustard dressing.
‘’It’s got a little bit of bite to it,’’ he said.
In that way, it’s like its namesake.
Valentine was brought in by the Sox during the offseason to replace Terry Francona, a bold answer to a season that ended with the biggest collapse in baseball history and reports after the season that players had been drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.
Valentine’s high-wattage personality is as much the opposite of Francona as is the hands-on approach he has displayed during spring training.
One of the changes the Sox made as they try to turn the page on last season was to ban beer from the locker room.
‘’Zero tolerance for the Red Sox right now,’’ Pomper said. ‘’Until they can re-prove themselves. But we have a lot of faith in that team. They’ve been good to our region, obviously, the last 10 years. Hopefully last September’s behind us.’’
Proving that Valentine actually invented the wrap is difficult. But it’s just as hard to prove that he didn’t.
He has run Bobby Valentine’s Sports Gallery Cafe in Stamford, Conn., for more than 31 years, and the story goes that in 1980 he was making a sandwich there at his restaurant when the toaster broke. He grabbed a tortilla and used it to wrap the contents and called it a Club Mex. Eventually, customers just started calling it a wrap.
Pomper, 50, smiled at the story, saying that when he was in college at Boston University in 1979, ‘’I was eating wraps on Commonwealth Avenue.’’
That being said, his restaurant has been in the heart of Coolidge Corner on Harvard Street for 23 years, and it’s known for naming sandwiches and drinks after sports stars.
‘’We had some fun with it when we opened,’’ he said.
To this day, Pomper said, the most popular order is still the Ted Williams, a 10-ounce hamburger with sauteed crimini mushrooms.
‘’Ted used to eat here,’’ said Pomper, pointing to the table closest to the door. ‘’He used to sit at that table right there. He used to come in with his son.’’
There is also the O.J. Simpson, a grilled chicken breast with Buffalo Bills buffalo bills hot sauce, blue cheese, and bacon.
‘’Some people won’t order it because they have their own opinion whether he was guilty or not,’’ he said.
The tuna sandwich, obviously, has Bill Parcells’s name written all over it.
Then there’s the Tonya Harding — a club sandwich.
‘’We all know what she did to our local celebrity here, Nancy Kerrigan,’’ said Pomper.
Valentine may have Francona’s his old office, but Valentine he won’t replace Francona on the menu.
Francona used to pop in the Clubhouse every so often and grab the sandwich named after him, a smoked turkey number with cheddar cheese, honey mustard, and Bermuda onion on rye.
The restaurant is about a 15-minute walk from Fenway, and the kitchen stays open until 1:15 a.m., so Pomper is used to seeing some of the faces from Fenway come by after games.
‘’To me, it’s an honor when you have people like that come in your restaurant,’’ he said.
Back when the Celtics practiced at Hellenic College, they used to be regulars, showing up around 3 in the afternoon when things were quiet.
Kevin Youkilis drops in every so often, ‘’especially when his parents are in from Cincinnati,’’ said Pomper. ‘’His parents love the restaurant.’’
Trevor Best, 39, the manager at the J.P. Licks next door, usually stops by the Clubhouse every day for a fish sandwich. He gave the new wrap his stamp of approval but wasn’t willing to buy the story that Valentine was the mastermind behind it.
‘’It’s good,’’ he said. ‘’But I find that hard to believe.’’
From LeBron James and Tiger Woods to Magic Johnson and Eli Manning to Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo to Larry Bird and Carlton Fisk, the Clubhouse menu looks more like a roster.
Adding Valentine simply made sense.
‘’We had to get to Bobby Valentine,’’ Pomper said. ‘’It’s a new era.’’
Other sandwiches at the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse in Brookline
Valentine joins a long list of athletes and coaches to have an item on the menu named in their honor:
The Marvin Hagler: 10 oz. burger topped with bleu cheese and bacon.
The Wayne Gretzky: A chicken breast sandwich topped with bacon and cheddar cheese.
The Reggie Lewis: A Cajun grilled chicken breast served with a side of Cajun mayo.
The Tonya Harding: Triple-decker chicken club sandwich with lettuce, bacon, and tomato.
The Yao Ming: A grilled chicken sandwich smothered in teriyaki sauce with cheddar cheese and pineapple slices.
The Rocky Marciano: A combination of peppers, onions and provolone on a flame-broiled 10-ounce burger.
The Tiger Woods: Roast beef, smoked turkey, coleslaw and Russian dressing on rye bread.
The Ray Bourque: North Carolina-style pulled pork served on a bulkie roll with sliced Bermuda onion and a side of coleslaw.
The Bill Parcells: White tuna salad served on whole wheat with lettuce and tomato.
The Bill Belichick: Grilled chicken tips on a French roll with provolone cheese. Choice of peppers, onions or mushrooms.
The Red Auerbach: Corned beef, pastrami and melted Swiss cheese with Dijon mustard on rye bread.
The Terry Francona: Smoked turkey, cheddar cheese, honey mustard and Bermuda onion on rye bread.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @julianbenbow