Ok, so I was holding this one back for a rainy day, but in the spirit of the week before Opening Day, we hold nothing back from our fans and readers. It’s a great time of the year, and that calls for great measures. We already talked about the time we hung with Reds skipper Jerry Narron and his Grey Goose double downs. Today, I talk about the glorious time I met former Rangers and Mets manager turned Soap Opera/TV Star Bobby Valentine.
The year was 2005. Several times, editor George had mentioned to me a place known as Bobby V’s restaurant, a place where one could enjoy fine food, drink, and spirits. Why did I think it was so cool? Well for one there aren’t too many restaurants/watering holes in Columbus owned by former big league managers turned schmuck Baseball Tonight television personalities. George promised since our freshman year when I met him (which was the same year that Bobby V’s opened, he would take me there one day). The fact that I wanted to go came up more than often and the fact that one night he brought up that he was taking his girl ‘a nice Italian girl to a nice dinner at Bobby V’s’ made me jealous with envy, he finished off the comment with ‘have fun at home alone jerkin off all night’, only made me want to visit Bobby V’s even more.
That fateful night would finally arrive on December 31st, 2005. New Years Eve. George was meeting my girlfriend and now fiance Steph for the first time. It’s tradition that I go out east for New Years and George and I were taking our girls to a nice dinner in Stamford where George lived and then out to a bar to ring in the New Year. Low and behold, the place where we planned to celebrate was not far from Bobby V’s. Of course George being the great guy he is had alreay planned for time to poke our heads in the joint. I was so excited I couldn’t even speak. I don’t know why, it’s not like I was ever a Bobby Valentine or Mets fan, but I wanted to say I’d been there and check out all the baseball memoribilia.
We walked in around dinner time with our girls and low and behold look in the corner at who is eating dinner and conversing with an acquaintance (we’re all just acquaintances to Bobby V, trust me). I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. There he was, a legend in his own right, and somewhat to me. Afterall, it wasn’t that long ago that I had seen this guy calling the shots for the New York Mets in the Subway Series, and just nights before I had seen him on my favorite show Baseball Tonight, tooting his own horn of course. Now, there he was enjoying surf and turf on New Years Eve, without his wife of course. Not even a mention of Mrs. Bobby V.
I hurriedly said to Steph (who didn’t understand the big deal), to get her camera out. We had to get a picture of him or something. We had to document this shit. Imagine if you were at the zoo and the zookeeper told you that the last Manatee on earth was on display that afternoon. It was up to be to get a picture of that fucking Manatee, and I wasn’t going to be happy just saying I saw it. No, I wanted proof that I had been in Bobby V’s joint and seen the man himself.
It’s funny, I hadn’t begun drinking yet but I really don’t remember how it got started. I inched closer to Bobby V, and his table where he was telling a story of his greatness to some man that wasn’t blessed with the fame that he was. I figure this is pretty common, as he’s always got someone that will listen to his stories 100% about him and laugh at his jokes. He strikes me as a guy who can work a room–and he gets whatever he wants, especially in his restaurant.
Pretty soon I was right next to him and his table, and he became alarmed because I was invading his personal space. He finished his story quickly that left his acquaintance laughing and looked up at me.
“Bobby V, what’s going on?”
“Hey son, how are you?”
Wow, there it was. Bobby V., in his own joint, acknowledging me. I could tell right away he was in a good mood, otherwise he would have ignored me because he can and told me to see the brush.
“Well we’re just enjoying your place, getting ready for New Years–“
He cut me off right there. He knew what I wanted or at least he thought I did. Bobby decided he wanted to grant me a cheap thrill, and although I bet he makes a habit of cutting people off mid-sentence, it was clear he wasn’t interested in hearing about my plans for the night.
“Well sit down here, right by Bobby V.”
I don’t know if he said it in 3rd person but it would seem that he did. I took a seat right there, and to avoid any awkwardness, I acted quickly.
“Bobby V. this is my fiance, Steph. She wants a picture of me and you,” to avoid sounding like a homo and admitting the picture was just for me, I pinned the deal on my dear fiance.
I don’t know exactly what word it was that set his alarm off. All I know when I mentioned the noun ‘she’, his head began to whip about the place and heat-seek for women. The place was not full and I think the only women in there were Steph and the belated Jenna (George’s former wife). Bobby V spotted my girl and I think he figured since she was in his place, and ‘wanted a picture of him’, he was entitled to her. Like I said, he gets whatever he wants, and he couldn’t help himself. Remember, he was once a Major Leaguer, and those guys are whore mongers that believe that all women want them (most do), and if you’ve got a beaver, well you meet the description of what they are looking for. I don’t blame him for what happened next.
“Well where is she, is that her?,” looking in the direction of Steph
“Yeah Bobby, that’s my girl,”
“Well, aren’t you a pretty girl. Wow. So where are you from?”
“Well Bobby we’re from Columbus, we’re just out here to see our friend who lives in Stam-“
“So are you in college Steph? What are you getting into tonight?”
He continued on with talking to her and she didn’t realize what was happening but I sure did. It soon became aparent to me that I was sitting next to slime. My hopes and dreams had become shattered at an instant.
Bobby V didn’t wanna hear about my night, he wanted to hear about Steph’s night. He didn’t care where I was from, but he sure wanted to know where Steph was from. I couldn’t believe it, my hero (well obviously not) was hitting on the love of my life. Granted she is a very pretty girl, but still–I figured a guy who dresses and talks like Bobby V. wreaks of class. I was somewhat dissapointed in my discovery.
Alright, Bobby V., I understand you’re better looking, have more money, and have more stories then I do. That’s fine, I have no problem concealing these things to a guy of your stature, I’d never even try to compete with you, in anything. I bet you could even beat me in Tiger Woods golf on PS2, without even playing before. But when it comes to my girl, that’s one area that you can’t even touch me on. She loves me man, alright?
“Well, we’re just going to a local place around here and getting some beers, you know watching the ball drop,” Steph said.
“Well you’ve come to the right place. They’ll take good care of you here babe, and whatever guys you’re with. Tell em’ Bobby V. sent you. They’ll take care of you, its my honor to have you here,”
He was doing it. He was running through the same salesman-like routine that he had done 4,000 times during his time as a big leaguer, and it was working. Women can’t help being anything but powerless putty in the hands of a ‘legend’ like Bobby V. He was charming, and like I said, he had jokes you know.
“Well smile for the picture guys,” she said. I told you she loved me Bobby V. You see that? She’s not interested in you. Ha, I had won. I beat Bobby V at his own game.
“Oh of course, I was just getting to that. The picture. Is this your guy you’re with tonight?” forgetting totally that I’d even told him we were all but married, and yes, she was with me, dick.
She snapped off the picture and Bobby being the charming slimeball he had now revealed himself as threw his arm around me and threw on his best Baseball Tonight made for television movie smile. I tried my hardest not to cry and I threw on a smile too. Afterall, Bobby V. was hanging out with me. I pretended I was happy, and so did he.
After the picture, I tried my hardest to restore some normalcy to me and Bobby’s short-term relationship. Immediately his eyes were fixated back on the girls, Jenna and Steph, and he was just staring at this point. I wish I could have hear what his mind was thinking. Well not really.
“So Bobby, tell us some stories of your glory days, man.” I just was in it for a good story now.
“Well the stories are on the wall Chuck (not my name Bobby), just look around the place. You can walk around in here, in my place and show the girls all the pictures. There’s a lot of neat stuff in here. It will tell the story for me,” as he poured the rest of his brew into a glass with ice. It was no surprise to me that he didn’t drink beer from the can. Slime doesn’t drink from a can. Royalty doesn’t drink from a can.
It was at that moment that he thought he’d give me another cheap thrill, basically to just impress the girls and make a mockery out of me, although he was slick and sly enough to seem like a really nice guy while doing it. I knew exactly what he was doing, so did George.
“You see this here son (talking down to me nicely), this is a collectors item.” as he slid his empty towards me across the fine oak table that we sat.
“This is a Bobby V (third person dialogue) limited edition beer. There’s my face right there on the side,” as if I wasn’t already beaten and demoralized, this guy was now bringing up the fact that he’s got a beer named after him, his own bar, and he was now using me as a trash man for his empty waste containers. Glad I could be of service to you.
“Oh yeah well here’s my face on a $25 dollar bill, and you can keep it, Jagoff,” I thought inside my head. Beat that one as I grinned at my thoughts.
“So you girls have a great time tonight,” he said realizing there was probably a low percentage of bagging one in his Mercedes outside in the lot, and completely ignoring the fact still that they were our dates for the night.
“Hey Bobby, you and Mrs. Bobby V got any big plans for the night?” I said.
Clearly at this point we were at different ends of the battlefield. Bobby V smelled the enemy. His wife was nothing more than a giant albatross he had to report home to at this point in life. He kept her around to clearly protect his image and didn’t want any mention of her when females were in the room. It wouldn’t have surprised me if he said she was dead.
“Who?” he said with a quick chuckle.
“Your wife. You and her got any big plans for the night?” I said it again, and wasn’t backing down. Good enough medicine for him, and his limited edition can.
“Oh, nah, but that’s a great idea, I better get home before she calls up here looking for me wondering where I’m at. You kids have a great night.”
He had backed off. In some small way, I’d won. Not only did I have a picture of Bobby V, but a story to go with it. New Years Eve came and went, and I decided that night that I’d never step foot in Bobby V’s lair again. I never wondered how he ended up that news years night, all I knew is that I had my girl, my Bobby V limited edition can (hey shithead, I don’t know where it’s at), and at nights end I was so drunk I was voluntarily giving piggy back rides to our group all the way back to George’s apartment. All Bobby had was a managerial job with the Chiba-Lottes Marines overseas and pictures of his past days of glory. I still had my glory days ahead of me. As we looked at his pictures on the wall, detailing his years of success, I knew I had won a small victory, and I would drink to that on this night.