Former Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine says he has not officially been in contact with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, after a report circulating Thursday mentioned him as being under consideration for ambassador to Japan.
“I have not officially talked with anyone from the Trump team,” Valentine told The Japan Times in an email. “It would be a tremendous honor. I love the U.S. and I love Japan and the people of Japan.”
Boston-area radio station WEEI first published a report on its website on Thursday, saying the former Red Sox manager had engaged in preliminary discussions about the position. The WEEI article also noted that Valentine, 66, has known the president-elect and his brother, Bob, since the 1980s and is also familiar with Anthony Scaramucci, who is part of the Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee.
The WEEI article, citing an anonymous source, said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie first mentioned Valentine for the position.
Caroline Kennedy is the current ambassador, having been in the position since replacing John Roos in August 2013.
Valentine is currently the director of athletics at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.
He was a popular manager during his two stints with the baseball team. He first managed the Marines in 1995 and led Lotte again from 2004 until his controversial exit in 2009, when members of its management at the time launched a successful campaign to oust him in a move seen as both a cost-cutting measure and a power struggle.
In 2005, Valentine led the Marines to a sweep of the Hanshin Tigers in the Japan Series, becoming the first foreign manager to lead his team to the title. Valentine was given the Matsutaro Shoriki Award, which recognizes individuals for their contributions to professional baseball in Japan.
A few years later, he was the subject of an ESPN Films documentary, “The Zen of Bobby V,” which documented his 2007 campaign with the Marines, in which the team fell one win short of reaching the Japan Series.
Valentine spent 10 years in the majors as a player but is best known as a manager, having led the Texas Rangers (1985-1992), New York Mets (1996-2002) and most recently the Boston Red Sox (2012) during his career.
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