Want to hear a good baseball story?
It’s the middle of summer and a notable intersection of baseball greatness took place that many will never know about. It happened last Friday on a dusty dirty field at Wilson Christian Academy in the sleepy little town of Wilson, North Carolina.
Two travel baseball teams were about to play in the Dynamic U-17 World Series. At the pregame coaches meeting at home plate, the two teams’ coaches were as surprised as anybody to see who was on the other side of the field. It was former Major League pitcher Billy Wagner coaching against former big league player and manager Bobby Valentine. Former greats, stepping back to manage young players who are too young to really know anything about their coaches’ baseball careers.
Valentine played 10 years in the bigs and managed 16 more years with 3 different teams; he also managed the Norfolk Tides in 1996.
Valentine led the New York Mets to the World Series in 2000 and now is the Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. Valentine is managing the U-17 X Fury travel team made from players out of Connecticut
Wagner had a 15-year MLB career with 5 different teams, and is one of only five relief pitchers to accumulate over 400 saves in his baseball career. He now coaches the Evoshield Canes U-17 North team based out of Virginia.
It was a chance meeting of two great baseball minds on a hot summer day. Wagner’s team would win this game, but the two teams would meet a day later in the championship game with Valentine’s team getting the win.