Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Name Is Bobby, And I'll Be Your Waiter

For the life of him, TigerBlog cannot remember the exact year it was.

He does know it was a trip to either Brown/Yale or Dartmouth/Harvard for men's basketball, and he was still the men's basketball contact, which means it had to be late 1990s or early 2000s.

Actually, it had to be between 1996 and 2002, because Bobby Valentine was the manager of the New York Mets at the time.

Vinnie DiCarlo, who used to be an intern here in the OAC, used to work in Stamford, just across the New York-Connecticut state line.

TB is pretty sure he was traveling with Tom McCarthy, who was the basketball radio man for Princeton at the time, and Mark Eckel, who was covering the team for the Trenton Times.

Both were big fans of Vinnie. How could you not be?

Vinnie was one of the big kids who was always smiling, always up.

TB has three vivid memories of Vinnie's time here at Princeton.

First, there was the time he played "America the Beautiful" instead of the national anthem before a men's hockey game, which wasn't that unusual back then. Except in this case, the version DiCarlo chose turned out to be a 17-minute instrumental version, and it never reached the "Oh Beautiful For Spacious Skies" part in the two or so minutes it played and was cut off as the crowd started getting restless, all while the players started banging their sticks on the ice.

Oh, and there was the time when DiCarlo came home from the 1996 NCAA tournament with a sign that said "This is not a public entrance to the RCA Dome."

And of course the DiCarlo family lamb roast, at his Aunt Connie's house. TB and Eckel stopped there on their way back from Brown, TB remembers, after a men's lacrosse game. That was quite a show.

Anyway, on this trip, the group met up with Vinnie for lunch on the way through Connecticut, and it was Vinnie who decided to go Bobby Valentine's restaurant.

It was probably around 2 or so when TB and company arrived, and the lunch crowd had emptied. In fact, there was almost nobody in the place, and there was one of those "Please Seat Yourself" signs that you see during off-peak hours.

As the group of four settled into a table, there was a guy with a hammer fixing the carpet a few feet away, and he was kneeling down facing the other way.

Then he stood up and walked over to the table, pulled out a pad and said "My name is Bobby, and I'll be your waiter."

Obviously, it was Bobby Valentine, who was working in his restaurant about a week before heading to spring training.

He couldn't have been a nicer guy, from the moment he joked about being the guy who has to fix the carpet until the group left as he said "thanks for coming in for a late lunch."

It is from such meetings that a lifetime of rooting for someone is born, and TB has never rooted against Bobby V since. It hasn't hurt that he's managed the Mets and Red Sox, as opposed to the Yankees.

Now that Bobby Valentine is going to be the Director of Athletics at Sacred Heart University, TB can see himself rooting for the Pioneers.

It's a great hire for Sacred Heart, one summed up perfectly by the University president with this quote from the release:
“We recognize that Bobby is an out-of-the-box selection, but we believe his entrepreneurial spirit, extensive sports background and love of athletics make him an ideal choice. He is a native son with strong name recognition, and his selection demonstrates Sacred Heart’s commitment to its athletic program and to innovation and excellence throughout the University,” said SHU President John J. Petillo.

TB has been asked why he thinks Valentine would want to be the AD at a smaller DI school like Sacred Heart.

In this case, it seems like a good fit. Like President Petillo said, it's strong name recognition. And for Valentine, he's clearly had enough of Major League Baseball, so this is a good segue for his competitive side. And he's a legendary Connecticut high school athlete.

Maybe the job will have some surprises for him that he's not anticipating. Maybe after his experiences he'll find it tedious.

Hopefully not.

TB is rooting for him.

Just like he has ever since the day that he was TB's waiter.

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