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BASEBALL PREVIEW 2012

Love him or hate him, Bobby Valentine is in charge

He’s brash. Maybe even arrogant. He’s charismatic. And combative. He’s convinced he can win in Boston, and dares you to prove him wrong.

So you think Kevin Bacon is connected? The Hollywood actor has nothing on the Sox manager, whose world expands well beyond baseball circles.

Bobby Valentine
  • BABE RUTH How do you get from the Bambino to Bobby V.? How about this: Leo Durocher played with Ruth on the 1925 Yankees; Durocher played with Pee Wee Reese on the '41 Brooklyn Dodgers; Reese played with Don Drysdale on the '57 Dodgers; Drysdale played with Valentine on the '69 Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • JACKIE ROBINSON The two can be connected multiple ways through Dodgers history, but they also lived in the same town. Robinson, the icon who broke Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947, and his wife Rachel made their home in Stamford, Conn., when Valentine was a multi-sport schoolboy star in the late '60s.
  • TED WILLIAMS Valentine can be connected to Teddy Ballgame in a couple of ways. Here's one thread through their respective playing careers: Williams played with Bill Henry on the 1954 Red Sox, who played with Frank Robinson on the 1963 Reds, who played with Bobby V. on the 1972 Dodgers. There's also a managerial link, though it requires more than six degrees: Williams was the first manager of the Texas Rangers, who moved from Washington in 1972. Valentine became the Rangers' manager in 1985. Excluding interim managers, they were separated by Whitey Herzog, Billy Martin, Frank Lucchesi, Billy Hunter, Don Zimmer, Pat Corrales, and Doug Rader.
  • TONY CONIGLIARO During his introductory press conference as the Red Sox manager, Valentine said he would wear No. 25 to honor Tony C., the star-crossed Red Sox slugger who, as Valentine tells it, was his roommate in spring training during a brief mid-'70s comeback attempt with the Padres.
  • BILL BUCKNER The future Red Sox first baseman made a recruiting visit to Southern Cal the same day Valentine did in 1968. He briefly attended the school, then was the Dodgers' No. 2 pick in the '68 draft the year Valentine was their top pick. The two roomed together in the minors and remain good friends.
  • JOE TORRE Less than three weeks after Torre became the player-manager of the New York Mets in 1977, Valentine was acquired from the Padres in a blockbuster series of deals known in Mets lore as the ''Saturday Night Massacre'' that sent popular ace Tom Seaver to the Reds. Twenty-three years later, Torre's Yankees would beat the Mets, managed by Valentine, in the 2000 World Series.
  • CASEY STENGEL When Valentine was on his recruiting visit to Southern Cal, he went to a party at the legendary Yankees and Mets manager's home.
  • NOLAN RYAN Valentine played with baseball's all-time strikeout leader from 1973-75 with the California Angels, then managed Ryan three years his elder with the Rangers from 1989-92.
  • SADAHARU OH Japanese legend Sadaharu Oh, who holds the world home run record of 868, managed division rival Fukuoka Softbank Hawks all but one year of Valentine's Japanese managing career. After the 1995 Kobe Earthquake, the league held a charity game between Japanese players and non-Japanese players, and Oh and Valentine managed their respective teams to raise money for quake victims.
  • ICHIRO In 1995, Valentine's Chiba Lotte Marines finished second to Ichiro's Orix BlueWave. Ichiro led the league in batting average, stolen bases, RBI, hits and OBP, and was named MVP that season. Valentine later called him "one of the five greatest players in the world."
  • HIDEKI IRABU Valentine managed the then 26-year-old Irabu for the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1995. He went 11-11, but with a superb 2.53 ERA and 239 strikeouts, both good enough to lead the league. Two seasons later, he would go on to sign with the New York Yankees. Also on the 1995 Marines: Julio Franco.
  • YU DARVISH Darvish was a rookie in 2005, the year Valentine took his Chiba Lotte Marines to the first Japan title in 31 years. Valentine saw plenty of Darish: during the 5 years he started against Valentine's team 22 times. The win-loss record total was 12-3, including 8 complete games (3 shutouts). He threw 162 2/3 innings with 142 strikeouts and 48 walks, posting an ERA of 2.93.
  • KEVIN QUINN Quinn, a friend of Valentine, is one of Goldman Sachs' top executives and formerly worked for the company in Japan as a senior investment banker.
  • THOMAS MONTAG Co-chief operating officer of Bank of America is a friend. "He's a drinking buddy," says Valentine.
  • LOU LAMORIELLO President/CEO/General Manager Lou Lamoriello of the New Jersey devils is a long-time friend. He is one of Bobby's advisors.
  • GEORGE W. BUSH Before he became the 43d president of the United States, Bush was the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers from 1989-94. Midway through the 1992 season, Bush fired Valentine after the Rangers got off to a 45-41 start. They stay in touch.
  • RUDY GIULIANI For his efforts in New York City following the 9/11 tragedy, Valentine was awarded the key to the city by the former New York City mayor.
  • MARILYN MONROE The last person the Hollywood sex symbol spoke to before she died was Peter Lawford, who was in the Rat Pack with Frank Sinatra, who was an avid baseball fan and had a good friendship with former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who was Valentine's mentor.
  • O.J. SIMPSON A decorated prep running back, Valentine was recruited to Southern Cal to ostensibly replace Simpson, the 1968 Heisman Trophy winner who went on to a Hall of Fame NFL career, and then, infamy.
  • TOM HANKS It's been said that Bobby V. has the same knack for being around history as Forrest Gump, the character played by Tom Hanks in the movie of the same name. Here's what you get when connecting Valentine to Hanks (or Gump): Valentine managed Ruben Sierra with the 1992 Texas Rangers. Sierra was traded later that season for Jose Canseco, who dated Madonna. Madonna starred with Hanks in the 1992 film, ''A League of Their Own.''
  • RICHARD GERE Connecticut-resident/actor is a neighbor of Valentine's. He is a big baseball fan albeit of the Yankees. "He and I are very simpatico," says Valentine.
  • KEVIN BACON The legend goes that anyone can be connected to the longtime and ubiquitous actor in six steps. It takes all of five with Valentine. Here goes: Bobby V. played with Rick Honeycutt on the 1979 Seattle Mariners. Honeycutt played with Royce Clayton on the 1997 St. Louis Cardinals. Clayton portrayed A's shortstop Miguel Tejada in the 2011 film ''Moneyball,'' featuring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane. Pitt starred with Bacon in the 1996 film ''Sleepers.''
  • PHIL COLLINS The popular recording star and former Genesis band member has double-dated with Valentine.

Illustration By Javier Zarracina/Globe Staff, Interactive by Daigo Fujiwara, Tom Giratikanon/Globe Staff

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