Bobby Valentine Expands on Disguise Story at ALS Fundraiser
Last week, Michelle Ioannu from Rising Apple published an article giving fans further insight on the infamous night that Bobby Valentine was ejected and returned to the dugout wearing a disguise. The new nugget of information was that he had an accomplice in Robin Ventura.
At a fundraiser dinner for ALS on February 9, Valentine again expanded on the incident, offering more details, implicating an additional accomplice and gave a little more background. The incident itself is funny enough, but in this video, the story comes across even funnier thanks to Valentine’s gregarious story-telling nature and the enthusiasm in which he tells the story.
Valentine first allowed for some background to the story. He recalled that just three days prior, Steve Phillips, the New York Mets general manager, fired three coaches without notifying Valentine. The loss of those three coaches, pitching coach Bob Apodaca, hitting coach Tom Robson and bullpen coach Randy Niemann, left the Mets shorthanded when it came to coaches who knew the plays and signs Valentine used.
Valentine has also told the story of his ejection before. According to Valentine, Mike Piazza was called for a catcher’s balk, a rarely enforced, archaic rule that Valentine said in his speech was something he had always thought was a questionable rule. He said that he asked home plate umpire, Randy Marsh, if he could get ejected for what he was thinking. After he was informed that he couldn’t Valentine proceeded to tell him what he was thinking and was promptly ejected.
Further background to this story was that the Mets were struggling, despite being expected to do well. Just a few days before, with rumors circulating about Valentine’s job security, he made one of the more underrated proclamations in New York sports history. When a reporter asked how he thought the Mets would do over the last 55 games of the season, he laid out the bold prediction that the Mets would go 40-15 or he would resign.
The veteran Mets and Valentine were ultra-competitive and that declaration laid an added layer of importance to each game. The “disguise game” was a 14-inning affair on June 9, 1999, that the Mets tied up with a two-out, three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth. When Valentine was ejected in the 12th, he went back to the clubhouse and encountered two of his veteran leaders in the clubhouse.
In Ioannu’s article last week, she shed light on the fact that Ventura contributed to Valentine returning in his disguise. Valentine went into more detail a week later.
He elaborated that when he went back to the clubhouse, Orel Hershiser was there too. Hershiser first offered to serve as a go-between for Valentine and his remaining coaches. That was when Ventura offered the disguise as a suggestion, coming up with the idea that Valentine remove his uniform. Ventura then provided a hat and sunglasses, leaving only the mustache as the final piece of the puzzle.
At the dinner on February 9, questions about the mustache were answered. He said as he went to the training room to look in the mirror, he noticed strips of eye black stickers and came up with the idea that they could double as a mustache. He then also said that it was Hershiser’s job to stand in front of him and block the umpires’ views of him in the dugout.
The story is told better by Valentine himself in this video:
The Mets not only went on to win the game on a Rey Ordonez walk-off single in the 14th but would go 40-15 over the final 55 games, just as Valentine had predicted.