Friends of The Village – October 2021


Bobby Valentine

Get to know former professional baseball player and manager, current Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University and candidate for the Mayor of Stamford, Bobby Valentine.

As a Stamford native, can you tell us how you’ve witnessed the city change over the years? 

My grandparents came to Stamford from Italy in 1910, and my family has been part of this incredible community ever since. Growing up in the Waterside neighborhood was magical. We walked to church, school and Southfield park. When we moved to Stillwater Road so I could play baseball at Rippowam, I began to understand how big our little city was. Clearly, the South End has changed more dramatically than other parts of Stamford, but what remains is our incredible diverse population – it’s Stamford’s biggest strength.

How exciting is this time in Stamford?

We really have a spectacular opportunity to capitalize on the population shift that COVID accelerated to make Stamford a real shining light on the east coast. Stamford can be a destination. Our unique culture and history is the backbone, and with the right leadership, we can truly embrace innovation to improve how people get around and enjoy themselves.

You were a Major League player, manager and TV analyst, which role was the best and which was the hardest?

After my playing career was over, I became a coach, and then a manager. Managing a professional baseball organization was clearly the toughest. My teams were always so diverse. In some cases, we had players that spoke five different languages. In Japan, I had to learn an entirely new culture and method for communicating in a very homogeneous society. In that role, I was also the Chief Operating Officer, where I was responsible for the players, the marketing department, our minor league system, etc.  It took me a few years, but we turned the team profitable and won a championship. It was the greatest learning experience of my life.

Is it true that The Village developer, Brent Montgomery, said that you were the nicest player or coach he met as a kid?  

As manager of the Rangers, my job was to cultivate the next generation of Texas sports fans and turn them into baseball fans. Brent succeeded beyond my wildest dreams!

What have you enjoyed about being involved in college athletics as Sacred Heart’s Athletic Director?  

The last eight years at Sacred Heart University have been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I’ve been able to impact the lives of so many young athletes and students. When I took the job, the department had severe deficiencies, but we quickly expanded the number of women’s teams and I raised the funds to rebuild our training facilities. Higher education and dealing with the nuances of the NCAA and NEC on a regional basis was another incredible learning experience.

Why did you choose to pursue a political career? How does your sports experience help you in politics? 

I’m running to be Mayor of my hometown not for political purposes, but as a way to give back to the community I’ve always loved. When I went to USC on a football scholarship at age 18, my parents would send me the “Stamford Advocate” every week. I’ve lived and worked all over the world, but the people of Stamford have always been the most special thing in my life. I opened my first business here in 1980 when I had no money in my pocket, and together we ignited a transformation of our downtown district. Public service has always been important to me, and being Mayor will allow me to contribute all of my experiences with building and leading organizations to a city that needs a change of direction and a fresh vision. Improving the perception of situations and boosting morale are things I do well. Our public school system doesn’t get recognized for the wonderful teachers and students we have because our facilities are outdated and the folks in government don’t champion the bright spots. I will.  Oh…and we need someone that’s been a homeowner here to curtail the property tax hikes of the last eight years!

What is your favorite thing about the city of Stamford?

Scalzi Park is a wonderful asset to the city and when I’m mayor, we will find the capital to make it a world-class venue for athletics, BBQs and family gatherings. I have so many spectacular memories there: special occasions with friends, my mom played bocci there, and — of course — I played baseball there.

Rapid Fire –

  1. Favorite sport other than baseball? Football. I’m the only person in Connecticut to be three-time all-state in high school football. Football got me a scholarship to USC. 
  2. If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive) who would you choose and why? Tommy Lasorda. Those were the greatest dinners of my life, and I’d give anything for another one. 
  3. What would your last meal be? Eggplant Parmesan! 
  4. Favorite piece of advice that you’ve ever received? My partner in the restaurant business always told me – “always pay my own tab and never do a shot in my place. I poured a lot of shots, but never did one.”