Bobby Valentine wasn’t even close to being the best player in the league during his time in the MLB, but he did pretty well for himself once he retired and decided to become a manager—a decision that ultimately led to the most amusing moment of his career thanks to a disguise he used to try to skirt the rules.
The man known as “Bobby V” played for four different teams between 1969 and 1979 before stepping into the role of the manager of the Rangers in 1985 to kick off an eight-year run in Texas. He also spent some time with the Mets and a single season with the Red Sox, and those stints were punctuated by his time with the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Pacific League.
Valentine has always been a personable and charismatic guy who’s never afraid to branch out a bit; he’s also served as the athletic director at Sacred Heart University and staged an unsuccessful run for mayor of Stanford, CT (his hometown) in 2021.
However, he’ll always be best remembered for his time as an MLB manager—and there aren’t many moments more memorable than the night he busted out a laughable disguise in the dugout after getting booted from a game.
Bobby Valentine wore a ridiculous disguise to try to remain in a game after being ejected
The night was June 9th, 1999, and Bobby Valentine and his New York Mets were set to take on the Toronto Blue Jays at Shea Stadium.
The Mets had recently been subjected to an eight-game losing streak, but things were trending in the right direction, as they bounced back with a win over Toronto and had the chance to pull off a four-game sweep with a victory.
The contest was a tight one. The score was knotted at 3-3 after nine innings, and Valentine was locked in.
In the bottom of the 12th with Patrick Mahomes Sr. (yes, that Mahomes) on the mound, Valentine signaled for a pitchout in the hopes of catching Blue Jays outfielder Shannon Stewart attempting to steal second base to get into scoring position. However, the runner was not only able to beat Mike Piazza’s throw but advanced to third base after home plate umpire Randy Marsh ruled the catcher came too far out of the box and called a balk.
It’s safe to say that didn’t sit well with Bobby V.
The manager stormed out of the dugout to give Marsh a piece of his mind, and Valentine later recalled what unfolded at that point, saying, “I asked him if I could get thrown out for what I was thinking and he said no. Then I told him what I was thinking and he threw me out.”
As a result, the Mets found themselves without a manager at a fairly crucial juncture.
Valentine apparently didn’t have that much confidence in the coaches who remained in the dugout, as he headed into the clubhouse and threw on a disguise consisting of glasses, a new hat, and a fake mustache before returning and hoping no one would notice his presence.
I have a hard time believing Valentine really believed he was going to be able to get away with the move, but if that was the case, he was ill-informed.
While Orel Hershiser was supposed to run interference by standing in front of Bobby V, the broadcast cameras immediately narrowed in on the new presence in the dugout as the announcers joked, “That is not Groucho Marx. That would be the manager of the New York Mets.”
After the game, (which the Mets won in the 14th inning after escaping the 12th unscathed), Valentine smirked when asked about the ruse and responded to a question about his presence by saying, “It was somebody else who didn’t look like me.”
However, he eventually accepted the two-game suspension and $5,000 fine the MLB greeted his antics with and served his punishment before leading the Mets to a wild card birth by finishing second in the NL East that season.
As far as I’m concerned, this is easily the funniest thing an MLB manager has ever done and it will be very hard to top. Charlie Manuel came close with the prank he pulled at the expense of Kyle Kendrick, but Bobby V really set the bar.