What do Valentines have to do with sports? Plenty if you take into account Cupid-inspired athlete’s names.
We start with Bobby Valentine. Even though he was never loved by fans, he spent 10 years as a player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels, San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners, finishing with a .260 career batting average and 12 home runs in 11 seasons. He also managed the Texas Rangers, Mets and Boston Red Sox.
You can add to the list Chicago Bulls shooting guard Denzel Valentine, who was a first-round NBA draft choice in June out of Michigan State. He was a first-team All-American for the Spartans as well as the AP and NABC Player of the Year in 2016.
How can you have a name like Valentine and not be loved? Just ask college basketball official Ted Valentine. Known as TV Teddy he loves working in front of the television cameras, and as a rule, fans just don’t like him.
I known ESPN analyst and former Coach Dan Dakich doesn’t, saying, “He thinks every block/charge call is an Oscar winning performance, he antagonizes players and coaches, and he officiates a game like everyone in the building bought a ticket to watch him.’’
Valentine has been a college basketball officials for more than three decades and works in at least eight different conferences including the SEC, ACC and Big Ten.
For Valentines, you need Love, and we have a couple you will recognize. Golfer Davis Love III, the 2016 winning Ryder Cup captain who has won 21 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1997 PGA Championship. Also there is Cleveland Cavaliers standout Kevin Love. He was a member of the Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA championship team and is a three-time All-Star.
And you can’t have Valentines without flowers, specifically roses, and candy. The Flowers we came up with were Tyler, the anticipated Atlanta Braves starting catcher for the coming season, when they begin play at their new stadium in Cobb County. How about Camilla-born Tiger Flowers, who was the first black middleweight boxing champion in 1926, beating Henry Greb to claim the title.
And finally Allen Ralph “Buck” Flowers was a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech as a 5-foot-7, 155-pound halfback between 1918 and 1920.
If the flowers are roses we find the Macon Peaches most famous alum, Pete Rose who was on the 1962 Sally League championship squad and went on to become baseball’s all-time hit king with 4,256 hits. He is still not in the Hall of Fame, but he should be. I don’t think his gambling on baseball games had any impact on his playing career.
Other Roses include Derrick, now a member of the New York Knicks, who was the first pick in the 2008 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. He is a former NBA MVP and a three-time NBA All-Star despite a career hampered by injury. And finally Jalen Rose, now an ESPN analyst and a member of Michigan’s “Fab Five” in the early 1990s.
And how can you have Valentines without candy. The only surname I could find with that name is John Candy, but he was an actor and not an athlete. We did find “The Candy Man” John Candelaria, who pitched for eight major league teams between 1975 and 1993, compiling a 177-122 record with a 3.33 ERA. How about Candy Maldonado, a former major league outfielder, who played from 1981 to 1995 for seven different teams. He had a lifetime batting average of .254.
Hope you got your Valentine a nice gift this year.
Contact Bobby Pope @firstname.lastname@example.org