He made his Major League Baseball debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers at just 19 years old. Since then, as a player, coach, and mostly manager, Bobby Valentine has been a stalwart figure in the world of baseball, and not just in America. After his first managerial position leading the Texas Rangers, Valentine went to Japan for a brief stint as a manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines, testing the waters in a country where baseball was quickly becoming the most popular sport around. He returned to the United States in 1996 to become manager of the New York Mets. In 2000 he led his team to the World Series against the crosstown rival Yankees, but the Mets' loss in that game was the beginning of the end for Valentine. After finishing last in the National League East in 2002, he was fired. But in 2004, Valentine headed back to Japan, determined to help transform Japanese baseball into a real rival for the American major leagues instead of just another farm system for talent. Since Valentine returned, the Marines have been a perennial contender and even won the championship in 2005, prompting Valentine to propose a true World Series: a matchup between the American and Japanese champions. He has tried to boost the Japanese game in quality as well as stature, arguing that the Japanese league shouldn't play second fiddle to anyone. Along the way, Valentine has become an icon and hero in Japan, a recognizable celebrity as popular as any ballplayer. Andrew Jenks, Jonah Quickmire Pettigrew, and Andrew Muscato take the audience behind the scenes into a baseball-season-in-the-life of this energetic, enthusiastic, and outspoken American who continues to prove that his love for the game is infectious even across oceans.
Director's Statement Collapse
The three of us were 21 years old. We were a few months away from finishing junior year at NYU. We lived in a dormitory, put together enough change for lunch at Ben's Pizza, and watched loads of ESPN. So when the ‘Worldwide Leader in Sports’ called saying that they were going to finance our documentary movie idea about a year in the life of Bobby Valentine, it all sounded too perfect.
For more than 20 years Bobby Valentine managed in Major League Baseball. He was known for his fiery attitude, honesty, and ability to help his teams win games. So when Bobby V flew across the Pacific to Japan, the baseball world figured he couldn't get a gig in the States. But after being offered three head managing jobs in MLB, Bobby saw a bigger purpose in Japan: The game was dying and needed help. So Bobby took a franchise that was losing millions and turned it around. In 2005, they won a Japan Series. He has since become a legend. Valentine's Way is a popular residential street, 'Bobby Burger' is a top-selling burger, and a cold 'BoBeer' always tastes good.
At 21, the three of us grew up in an American sports culture that oftentimes seemed less about sports and more about steroids, betting lines, and money. Japan isn't necessarily better than America, but when the professional athletes practice eight hours on an off-day, and the fans will wait six hours for the game to start during a rain delay, it's hard for three college kids never to look at pro sports the same way.
About the Director(s)Collapse
Jonah Quickmire Pettigrew was cinematographer and editor for the HBO documentary Andrew Jenks, Room 335. He is the founder of Kids Making Movies, a summer film camp for children in his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut. He plans to graduate from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in May 2008. Andrew Jenks was the director and star of Andrew Jenks, Room 335 at age 19. At age 16 he founded the Hendrick Hudson Film Festival. By its second year, the festival hosted keynote speaker James Earl Jones and has since become one of the biggest high school film festivals in the United States. Andrew Muscato is from Basking Ridge, New Jersey. He plans to graduate from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in May 2008. While studying at NYU, Andrew cowrote and produced numerous short films.