Ellis Valentine

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Ellis Clarence Valentine

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Biographical Information[edit]

"They say that I can't throw like Ellis Valentine or run like Tim Raines or hit with power like Mike Schmidt. Who can? - Pete Rose, using Ellis Valentine as his example of the best arm in the National League.

"There's a plateau where you can't throw the ball any harder and you can't be any more accurate. That was Ellis Valentine." - Felipe Alou

Cannon-armed Ellis Valentine played ten seasons in the majors, appearing in the 1977 All-Star Game and winning a Gold Glove in 1978. A good hitter in his days with the Montreal Expos, his best year was in 1980 when he posted a line of .315/.367/.524. He also slugged over .500 in 1977.

As a young player, he was part of the vaunted Expos outfield that included Andre Dawson and Warren Cromartie, with all three of them being around the same age. Valentine may have had the highest hopes for success pinned on his shoulders, but he unfortunately battled drug and alcohol addiction throughout his career. He suffered a shattered cheekbone via a pitch from Roy Thomas of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980; the story is that he was partially high on cocaine at the time and as a result did not get out of the pitch's way. After a slow start in 1981, he was dealt to the New York Mets in exchange for future Expo closer Jeff Reardon, among others. From there, he muddled through several seasons as a Met (an organization he dubbed "the worst in baseball" during the dog days of summer in 1982), and also plaued for the California Angels and the Texas Rangers before retiring in 1986.

Ellis appeared in a 1978 episode of Fantasy Island, in which guest star Gary Burghoff (M*A*S*H) dreams of being a professional baseball player. Ellis becomes one of his strikeout victims. He is one of eight major leaguers (through 2024) with the last name Valentine.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL All-Star (1977)
  • NL Gold Glove Winner (1978)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1977-1979)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Danny Gallagher: "Valentine was a five-tool specimen", in Remembering the Montreal Expos, Scoop Press, Toronto, ON, 2005, pp. 75-84.

Related Sites[edit]