Former Texas Rangers manager Bobby Valentine’s career has included three stints in Major League Baseball dugouts, work as an ESPN talking head, a low-level government job in Connecticut and his current gig as the athletic director of the second-largest university in New England.
But it’s Valentine’s seven years of coaching baseball in Japan that makes him a potential fit in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.
According to Boston radio station WEEI, Valentine, currently the athletic director at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, is under consideration to become ambassador to Japan.
“All this talk about Japan is just speculation as far as I’m concerned, but it’s an honor to even be in the conversation.” Valentine said in an emailed statement, declining to answer questions about any potential role in the Trump administration.
“I’m extremely happy at Sacred Heart University. It’s growing rapidly and is a very dynamic, exciting place to be.”
Trump transition officials declined to provide details on Valentine’s potential appointment during a call with reporters on Friday morning.
Valentine managed the Rangers from 1985 to 1992, compiling a record of 581-605, and he led the New York Mets to the World Series in 2000. A restaurant in Arlington, Texas, still bears his name.
There’s precedent for sending a Texas Ranger to be ambassador to Japan.
Former Rangers president Tom Schieffer served as ambassador during the George W. Bush administration even though he was a Democrat. Schieffer was friends with President Bush and worked for Bush when he owned the Rangers.
Valentine has known Trump since the 1980s. According to WEEI, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie first floated Valentine’s name for the position and Valentine is close to Trump transition leader Anthony Scaramucci.
The former Boston Red Sox manager also has a close relationship with Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks owner Masayoshi Son. Son, who owns Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group, recently met with Trump over a $50 billion investment that Trump said will create 50,000 jobs.
Valentine is also friends with recent Trump appointee Linda McMahon, a former WWE executive and two-time unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate from Connecticut who was tapped to lead the U.S. Small Business Administration earlier this week. McMahon serves on the board of trustees at Sacred Heart.
Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1995 and again from 2004 to 2009, and he won the Japan Series in 2005.