SALEM — The day after lightning-rod Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was fired after a miserable 2012 season, he held an impromptu press conference on the street, wearing a bicycle helmet just before an afternoon ride.
A month later, the setting was a little more formal at Salem State University, in front of about 1,400 people during the school’s annual speaker series at the O’Keefe Center last night.
A dapper Valentine, seated across from legendary baseball writer and television analyst Peter Gammons, answered Gammon’s queries with his usual snarky wit and often rambling opuses, touching on the 2012 Red Sox; his days managing in Japan, Texas and New York; and even his philosophies on life and hitting. He was animated and engaging, if not always on topic.
“I don’t know how I got on that tangent,” he said after breaking down what a hitter’s mind must process in the 0.4 seconds it takes a baseball to travel from the pitcher’s hand to home plate.
Valentine actually seemed to enjoy himself, a rarity during the contentious season just concluded in Boston — and seemed genuinely disappointed when it was time to leave.
“I didn’t have much of a chance to rattle on like this during the season,” he said, in spite of the roughly 400 press conferences a Red Sox manager is subjected to in an average season. “They (management) wanted a tamer, quieter Bobby V, and it didn’t suit me very well. I like talking.”
One thing Valentine didn’t talk about much is what he’s up to a month after his firing and what the future holds.
In a press conference before the event, a Salem News reporter asked if he still has the passion to manage, or if his mug might end up back on ESPN, where he worked as a television analyst.