Remembering The Horrible Injury That Ruined Bobby Valentines Playing Career (1973)

Bobby Valentine was drafted as a first round pick out of Stamford high school in his native, Connecticut back in 1968.

At the age of 18, Valentine was named the MVP of the Pioneer League. He played under manager Tommy Lasorda, who became a mentor & lifelong friend to Valentine.

In 1969 Valentine was briefly brought up to the big leagues for five games. He then continued to develop over two more seasons in the minor league level. 

At the age 20 he was playing at the Los Angeles Dodgers AAA Spokane club, batting .340 with 14 HRs 39 doubles 16 triples & 29 stolen bases.


Valentine was rushed up to the big league club, & he batted .249 with the '71 Dodgers, in 101 games. The next year Bobby still didn't have the power & speed he had in the minors. But Valentine did raised his average to .274 in 1972.

That winter the Dodgers & the cross-town California Angels in Anaheim, made a blockbuster trade. Bobby Valentine was part of the deal that sent him, Frank Robinson, Bill Singer & Billy Grabarkewitz to the Angels in exchange for Andy Messersmith, & Ken McMullen.

Within two years Messersmith became one of the NL's top pitchers & helped bring the 1974 Dodgers to the World Series.

In Anaheim, Valentine switched to playing short stop after   mostly playing outfield. The change of leagues did him well, as he was batting well over .300 & his future looked bright once again.

In a Thursday night game on May 17th, 1973, the Angels hosted that year's World Champion Oakland A's in front of 11,481 fans at Anaheim Stadium. The Angels pitcher  Rudy May went up against the A's Catfish Hunter. Catfish would shut out the Angels 4-0 on a five hitter.

In the top of the 2nd, Reggie Jackson tripled for Oakland & Ray Fosse later walked. Second baseman Dick Green then came to bat & blasted a shot to deep center field.

Valentine tracked the ball, ran to the fence & leaped up in attempt to snag the ball. He missed it by less than an inch &the ball went over the top of the fence for a HR.


But for Valentine it was much worse, his leg got caught up between two posts in the fence and tangled as he fell down to the ground. 

He lie on the ground in intense pain. He had to be carried off the field & would suffer from multiple leg fractures. It was one of the worst baseball injuries of the year & a memorable one for all time, in a bad way.

Valentine spent the rest of the year in two different leg casts. But the bones in his ankle did not heal right.

Instead of another surgery Bobby decided to play baseball in 1974. Although he did play in 117 games, he batted .261 & was never the same player again.

His once potential All Star career combined of speed & power at the plate, as well as being versatile able to play infield & outfield positions on the field were over. 

He became a back utility player, playing for five teams in his ten-year career, the Los Angeles Dodgers (1969 - 1972) California Angels (1973-1975) San Diego Padres (1975-1977) Mets (1977-1978) & Seattle Mariners (1979). 

In 639 games he batted .260 with 12 HRs 59 doubles 9 triples 157 RBIs 176 runs scored & a .315 on base %. Bobby played 161 games at short, 128 games in the outfield, 106 games at third, 23 at first & 19 as a DH.

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