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Paths cross again

World Series managers Joe Torre and Bobby Valentine shared the dugout for a time with the Mets.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 22, 2000


NEW YORK -- They met at home plate before Saturday's opening game of the World Series, but this wasn't the first important moment Bobby Valentine and Joe Torre have shared.

Opposing managers Saturday, they were on the same team, the Mets, in 1977-78. Torre was starting what eventually would become a stellar managing career; Valentine was finishing what had become a mediocre playing career.

On March 24, 1979, in the final week of spring training, Torre told Valentine goodbye, releasing him in favor of keeping youngsters such as Joel Youngblood and Kelvin Chapman.

"It was a tough time in my career because it was almost the end," Valentine said. "Somehow I caught on and fooled the Seattle team for another year. But at the time I was a 28-year-old guy who had to come to grips with something. I fought it."

Though admitting the move was "difficult" at the time, Torre says he thought even then that Valentine had the potential to become a manager.

"He talked a lot about managing," Torre said. "You could see the aspirations there at the time he was a player."

Valentine said Torre helped inspire him, giving of his time and knowledge. "I saw the bench a lot more than I played so there probably were a lot of times when I was bugging him during a game," Valentine said. "That's what I did to most managers. Bugged them."

Valentine was a minor-league coach for three seasons, then rejoined the Mets, after Torre was fired, for two seasons as third-base coach. He got hired to manage the Rangers in 1985 and asked Torre, who was working as a broadcaster in Anaheim, to consider being a coach on the Texas staff.

And what did Torre say?

"Hell, no. What are you, crazy? With the money and security I have, I'm going to go with you to Texas and be a coach?' " Valentine recalled. "Actually, he was gracious. He said, "With the money I'm making, I'm going to go and be a coach for you in Texas?' "

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