Former major league manager and player Bobby Valentine is reportedly being considered as president-elect Donald Trump‘s Ambassador to Japan, though Valentine is downplaying the talk.
Valentine would have obtained a United States ambassador position after a long baseball career that includes stints as a player and his manager. Within Major League Baseball, Valentine’s greatest contribution was arguably as manager of the New York Mets, whom he led to a National League pennant in 2000.
However, Valentine had an even more successful run in Japan, where he served two stints as manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines. In his second turn in Japan, Valentine led the Marines from 2004-2009, a stretch that included a Japan Series championship for the team in 2005.
Valentine managed to become a popular figure in Japan during that time, but his connections to the ambassador position and Trump run deeper. More from WEEI.com:
The former Red Sox manager has known both Trump and his brother, Bob, since the early 1980’s. He is also very close to Anthony Scaramucci, who is part of the Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee. And it was New Jersey governor Chris Christie who, according to a source, first surfaced Valentine’s name for the position.
The connections don’t stop there.
Valentine is still very popular in Japan, having managed the Chiba Lotte Marines for seven seasons, becoming the first U.S. born manager to win the Japan Series with a championship in 2005.
During the former big leaguer’s time in Japan, the Ambassador to Japan was Tom Schieffer, who also was president of the Texas Rangers during Valentine’s tenure as manager with the team. (Caroline Kennedy is the current ambassador, having been appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013.)
Valentine is friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like the former All-American, attended the University of Southern California.
While that set off talk that he could fill the role, Valentine has since downplayed talk of his possible appointment to the ambassador position. His remarks were made through an issued statement, which has been picked up by The Hartford Courant:
“All this talk about Japan is just speculation as far as I’m concerned, but it’s an honor to even be in the conversation,” Valentine, who is 66, lives in Stamford and is athletic director at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, said in a statement released through the university. “I’m extremely happy at Sacred Heart University. It’s growing rapidly and is a very dynamic, exciting place to be.”
Since 2013, Valentine has been the athletic director at Sacred Heart University. His last season as a major league manager came in 2012, his only campaign at the helm for the Boston Red Sox.
Valentine was once appointed to a public position, albeit on a much smaller scale. In 2011, Stamford mayor Michael Pavia named him the director of public safety, a position with an annual salary of $10,000 that Valentine served while also working as an analyst on ESPN. Valentine donated the salary to local charities.