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He Might Have Been the Next O.J. Simpson

March 3, 2010 | 11:00 am

March 3, 1970, Dodgers

March 3, 1970: Coverage of the Dodgers' 1970 spring training included several stories about the organization's young talent, but 19-year-old prospect Bobby Valentine, who chose the Dodgers and baseball over USC and football, received a higher level of praise.

Randy Newman

What’s this ad doing in the sports pages? Your guess is as good as mine – lrh

March 3, 1970, Dodgers

“Valentine has more than just talent," Manager Walt Alston said. "There is leadership in him. It isn't forced and it isn't contrived, it's just there."

Valentine was expected to start the season in Triple A, but there was little doubt about his future. "Maybe I shouldn't say it and I don't mean to sound like I'm popping off but I feel that the day will come when I'll help the Dodgers as a leader," Valentine told The Times' Ross Newhan.

Valentine, of course, did not reach stardom with the Dodgers. He was traded to the Angels and broke his leg trying to make a catch against the center-field fence at Anaheim Stadium. He eventually became a manager and now, after managing in Japan, he's part of ESPN's baseball coverage.

He was a legitimate football prospect, so much so that Newhan quoted USC Coach John McKay telling the Dodgers' Al Campanis, "If anyone has a chance to be the second O.J. Simpson, it was Bobby Valentine."

Of course, that meant something very different in 1970 than it does now.

-- Keith Thursby