Saturday, January 2, 2010
#671) ERIC VALENT
Eric Valent was drafted from the Cincinnati Reds by the New York Mets in the Minor League Draft on December 15, 2003. Most believed there was little chance that Valent was going to make the major league team before spring training started. "He's a great story," Mets' manager, Art Howe said that spring, "He's impressed everyone on our staff with his work ethic and how he handled himself on and off the field." In fact they were so impressed with what they saw the team traded Roger Cedeno to open a spot in the outfield for the former UCLA star. "I believed in my ability, and was excited when I made the team." Valent remembers. "You never know when you're not on the major league roster, but I knew I belonged."
The California native enjoyed his season in New York, and lists his favorite memory of Shea Stadium as "the great people who worked there that I saw everyday."
On July 29, 2004 he became only the eighth player in New York Mets history to hit for the cycle. "It's cool," Valent said that day. "It's tough to do. You need a lot of luck. It's a nice thing you can say when you're done playing." His four hits and three RBIs facing the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium were a definite highlight. "With my short career?" Eric said in 2012. "Definitely, a career highlight. Wish I could have played longer!"
Eric was granted free agency after the 2005 season and signed with the San Diego Padres on January 12, 2006. Although he would play the 2006 season in Japan.
Valent became a coach in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system after his active playing career ended. Later he was named their Northeast Area Scouting Supervisor. Eric has also remained around the game he loves by serving as an instructor for youth baseball camps. "Baseball has provided me with tremendous opportunities," explains Valent. "And, I want to pass my experiences on to the future young ballplayers."
Eric Valent signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on January 3, 2012.