Fred Valentine (baseball)
Fred Lee Valentine (January 19, 1935) is a retired American professional baseball player. A former outfielder born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, he appeared in 533 games over all or part of seven seasons in Major League Baseball for the Baltimore Orioles (1959, 1963 and 1968) and Washington Senators (1964–1968). He also played one season for the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball in 1970. Valentine was a switch hitter who threw right-handed; he was listed as 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and 190 pounds (86 kg).
|Born: January 19, 1935|
|September 7, 1959, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 24, 1968, for the Baltimore Orioles|
|Runs batted in||168|
Valentine attended Tennessee State University and signed with Baltimore in 1956. After completing four seasons in the Orioles' farm system, he was called to Baltimore for his first MLB trial during the final month of the 1959 season. In limited service (12 games total, with seven starts in the outfield), he batted .316 with two multi-hit games. He then returned to the top level of minor league baseball, and would not get his second chance with the Orioles until his recall in June 1963. Again, he played sparingly (getting into only 26 games), but he batted .268 as a backup outfielder and pinch hitter. His contract was then sold to the Senators in October. In 1964, Valentine finally spent extended time on a big-league roster, getting into 102 games and substituting in all three outfield positions. But he struggled offensively, hitting only .226, and was demoted to Triple-A Hawaii for 1965. Fortunately, he had a banner season with the Islanders, slugging 25 home runs, batting .324, and leading the Pacific Coast League in runs scored (116), earning him a September callup with the 1965 Senators.
That campaign led to Valentine's career-best season, in 1966. He played in 146 games, starting 127 of them as either Washington's center fielder or right fielder. At the plate, he set personal bests in home runs (16) and runs batted in (59), while hitting a robust .276, second on the team to slugger Frank Howard's .278. He led the Senators in runs scored (77), hits (140) and doubles (29). Then, in 1967, Valentine returned for another season as the Senators' "fourth" outfielder: he played in 150 games in all, and got into 136 games as an outfielder with 111 starts, most of these coming in center and right fields. However, his offensive production fell off in every category, as he hit .234 with 11 home runs. Returning to Washington in 1968, he appeared in 26 games in the outfield during the season's first two months. But he again struggled at the plate, batting .238, and Washington sent him back to the Orioles at the June 15 trade deadline for pitcher Bruce Howard. Valentine then concluded his MLB career as a reserve outfielder, hitting only .187 for Baltimore. On the cusp of winning three straight American League pennants (1969–1971), Baltimore outrighted Valentine to Triple-A Rochester for 1969. That season, the 34-year-old enjoyed one last productive minor-league campaign, hitting .287 with 18 homers. He then played a final year of professional baseball in Japan, where he batted .246 with 11 long balls for Hanshin.
All told, Valentine batted .247 in major league action, collecting 360 hits, with 56 career doubles, ten triples and 36 homers. He had 168 runs batted in.