Monday, February 14, 2011
Be my (Ellis) Valentine
On this Valentine's Day, let's honor a REAL Valentine... namely former Expos star outfielder Ellis Valentine.
The star out of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, he went to Montreal to form a remarkably talented outfield with Warren Cromartie and future Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. Valentine became an All Star with 20 home run power, double digit stolen bases and a rifle for an arm that helped him win a Gold Glove.
He was a Kellogg's 3D Super Star, and his having a 3D card meant I voted for him on my very first All Star ballot.
He was hit in the face by a pitch in 1980, resulting in that bad ass face guard seen on his 1981 Topps card above.
Sadly that was when his career began to take its down turn. In 1981 he was dealt to the Mets. But soon more injuries and drug issues derailed him. He played his last big league game in 1985 and was broke not long after that.
But Valentine put his pride on the shelf and built himself back up, kicked the drug habit and now counsels young players in Southern California about how to avoid his pitfalls.
He founded the A.V. Light Foundation in Lancaster, California to counsel families and is involved with B.A.D., an anti drug organization for baseball players.
Valentine's days as a baseball superstar may have been limited but his life is worth celebrating as he has become a positive figure in many people's lives. And as Jackie Robinson said, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
But let's not forget... he was a hell of a player.
Take a look at his throwing arm. Look, but don't try to run on him!