Like Harper, Valentine was a 19-year-old rookie

Like Harper, Valentine was a 19-year-old rookie

Like Harper, Valentine was a 19-year-old rookie
BOSTON -- With Bryce Harper making his Fenway Park debut on Friday night, it should be noted that the man who was managing against him was also 19 years old when he was called to the Major Leagues for the first time.

However, Bobby Valentine isn't trying to fool anyone into thinking he was anything close to Harper back in 1969.

"I was [just] in uniform when I was 19," Valentine said. "Much different. I was a token September callup at 19 and pinch-ran a couple of times. I was nowhere near ready to play in the Major Leagues. And he's doing more than holding his own."

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Valentine would play just five games with the Dodgers during that first callup and didn't make any plate appearances. He scored three runs and only wishes he had a chance to score a fourth in the most dramatic way possible.

"I got to third base once, and Danny Ozark was the third-base coach," Valentine said. "He actually told me to steal home. John Curtis, I think, was the pitcher -- there was a left-hander pitching out of the windup, and I said, 'I'll do it next pitch.' Willie Davis hit a fly ball to left on that pitch. I was gonna steal home as a 19-year-old. That would have been interesting, and there was a left-handed hitter at the plate."

Valentine has enjoyed tracking Harper's progress.

"Well, following his ascent to the big leagues, I've been very impressed," Valentine said. "When he left high school and went to junior college, I was amazed. When he hit all those home runs, I was even more amazed. He was drafted No. 1 and said he'd get to the big leagues before you know it. He's an amazing, amazing young man."

What impresses Valentine most about Harper?

"Well, he does play very aggressively," Valentine said. "He'll run out of the box, our outfielders know he'll try to challenge you. He dives in the outfield. He throws all the way to the base when he throws the ball. He's an interesting young man. It's incredible."