John Valentin: Long Island Native Who Finished His Career with the Mets (2002)

John William Valentin
was born on February 18th, 1967, in Mineola, New York on Long Island. 

Seton Hall Pirates: Valentin attended Seton Hall University in New Jersey where he played for the Pirates from 1986 - 1988. In 1987 he helped them win the Big East Championship then followed up batting .392 the following year.

In 1988 he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 5th round.

By 1991 Valentin was playing at AAA Pawtucket hitting 9 HRs & batting .260 in 100 games. 

MLB Career- Red Sox: In July 1992 he got a call up & drove in a run with an 8th inning single off Texas' Terry Mathews in a 7-5 Red Sox win. Valentin remained on the team batting .276 the rest of the way. 

He would spend ten years with the Red Sox, playing his first five years as the Sox main short stop until young Nomar Garciaparra arrived on the scene. Valentin then moved over to second base & then third base following an injury to Tim Naehring in 1997. That year he made 22 errors between the transition to the two positions.

Unassisted Triple Play: On July 8th, 1994, in a 5-4 win over the Mariners at Fenway Park, Valentin caught a line drive from Marc Newfield, stepped on second base for a double play then tagged out Keith Miller who was attempting to advance, turning just the 10th unassisted triple play in MLB history. He led off the bottom of the inning with a HR off Dave Flemming.

From 1994-1997 he hit .296 or better each year, averaging .303 with two seasons where he batted over .300. Valentin hit forty or more doubles three times, leading in the AL with 47 in 1997. He posted three 70 plus RBI seasons & two twenty plus HR seasons. 

In 1995 Valentin helped the Red Sox win the AL East, as he had his biggest year hitting 27 HRs with 37 doubles 102 RBIs & a .937 OPS. He was second to that year's AL MVP Mo Vaughn in HRs & RBIs on the club. Valentin came in 9th in the leagues MVP Voting. He also posted a .399 on base % while batting .298 & stole 20 bases. 

At short stop he was a fine infielder, although he led the league in errors there (18) he led the league in assists while coming in second in put outs. 

1995 Post Season- ALDS: In the series loss to the Cleveland Indians, Valentin hit a two run HR off the Tribe's Dennis Martinez in the first game loss.

Hitting for the Cycle: The next year he hit for the cycle in a June 6th 7-4 win over the White Sox in Boston. He drove in two runs including a solo HR off Joe Magrane in the 1st inning.

In 1997 Valentin led the AL in doubles (47) hitting 18 HRs with 77 RBIs batting .306. 

By 1998 he had switched over to third base becoming the team's regular at the position. He made 15 errors but led the league in put outs (121), was second in assists (292) third in games played (153) & double plays turned (28). That year his average fell to .247 a significant drop of 59 points, although he did still hit 44 doubles. 

In the Red Sox 1999 Wild Card season, he played in just 113 games batting .253 with 12 HRs & 70 RBIs.

1999 Post Season-ALDS: In the ALDS win over the Cleveland Indians, Valentin ha a big series batting .318 with three HRs & 12 RBIs.

The Indians took the first two games, but Boston came back with a Game #3 win at Fenway Park. In the game Valentine broke a tie in the 6th inning with a solo HR off Jared Wright. In the 7thm he added a two run double, as the Red Sox went on to a 9-3 victory. 

Record Tying Seven RBI Game: In Game#4 at Fenway Park, Valentin collected four hits with two HRs, a solo shot off Bartolo Colon & a 3rd inning shot off Steve Karsay. In the 4th inning he cleared the bases with a three run double off Steve Reed. Overall, in the game he drove in seven runs as the Sox pounded Cleveland 23-7 tying the series up. Valentin is one of three Red Sox players to have a record seven RBIs in a post season game.

In the final Game #5 he drove in two more run as the Red Sox advanced to the ALCS in the 12-8 win.

1999 ALCS:
The Red Sox lost the ALCS to New York in five games. In Game #3 Valentin hit a two run HR off Roger Clemens & drove in five runs with his three-hit day. The Sox won that game behind Pedro Martinez 13-3.

Valentin got to three post seasons with the Red Sox, batting .347 with 5 HRs 6 doubles & 19 RBIs.

He spent two more seasons with Boston, but injuries limited his time to just thirty games combined in the two seasons. After the 2001 season he was granted free agency & signed a one-year deal with the New York Mets at age 34.

Mets Career: Valentin joined a bad Mets team that finished fifth (75-86) in Bobby Valentine's last year as manager. Valentin did have some big hits for the team in his time in New York.

On Opening day Valentin got into his first Mets game, striking out as a pinch hitter in a 6-2 win over the Pirates at Shea Stadium.

On April 13th, the Mets were down 7-3 to the Expos when they put up two runs in the bottom of the 7th inning making it 7-5. With two men on Valentin singled to left field tying up the game as both runs scored. The Mets lost it in extra innings.

Pinch Hit Game Tying HR: On April 15th the Mets were behind 6-1 to the Atlanta Braves in the 7th inning. They scored three runs to make it 6-4 as Valentin came to bat as a pinch hitter with Rey Ordonez on first base. He blasted a two-run game tying HR off Mike Remlinger. The Mets went on to win it 7-6 in the 12th inning on Edgardo Alfonzo's walk off single.

On April 26th, the Mets were down 5-1 to the St. Louis Cards when Valentin started a 5th inning comeback rally with a two run double off Josh Pearce. The Mets went ahead with a five-run inning, winning the game.

On May 3rd he had a big game in Houston, collecting three hits a HR & four RBIs in the Mets 11-3 win. On June 23rd, Valentin hit a two run HR off the Royals Cory Bailey, in an interleague game at Shea Stadium, sparking the Mets to another comeback win. 

On July 28th with the Mets down 4-3 to the Reds in Cincinnati, Valentin doubled off Scott Williamson putting the Mets ahead 5-4, in another game they came back to win 6-5. 

In mid-August he hit safely in five of six games. On September 9th, he hit a two-run single off the Marlins Julian Tavarez for his ninth multi-Rbi game of the year. Later in the month he helped the Mets, as he drove in runs in two one run victories over the Phillies.

On the year Valentin played in 114 games batting .240 with 3 HRs 15 doubles & 30 RBIs with a
.339 on base %.

The versatile Valentin played at Short (234 games) first base (22 games) third base (11 games) second base (3 games) & DH (2 games).

Career Stats: Valentin finished his 11-year playing career with a .279 average 1093 hits 281 doubles 17 triples 124 HRs & 558 RBIs. He struck out 524 times with 463 walks, a .360 on base % & .814 OPS in 1105 games.

It was his final season as he retired at age 35.

Retirement: After his playing days he coached & briefly managed in the Dodgers minor leagues. In 2013 he was the Dodgers hitting assistant.

 In 2014 he was hit in the eye with a ball at an indoor facility at Coors Field in Colorado off the bat of Andre Either. He was lucky not to have any fractures or damage.

John also works for the Northeast Financial Network.

Valentin resides in Holmdel, New Jersey. In 2017 he & his mom were involved in a car accident when his SUV hit a building on Rt. 35. His mom suffered injuries but nothing life threatening.

He once owned Julia's Restuarant in the Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey.


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