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#483 Fred Valentine

08/13/2009

483 Fred Valentine483 Fred Valentine back

This is a great shot because you get to see the Senators cap logo, which is the same style “w” used by the Nationals today. As for my card, this is a pretty standard vg-ex. It’s crease-free, but has a lot of normal wear for a 45-year-old piece of cardboard. As a common in the semi-high series, a NM copy lists in SMR for $9. This is Valentine’s rookie card, as Topps did not produce a card for him the two previous years he had played in major league games.

The trivia question asks which club holds the longest winning streak ever. The answer provided is the original Cincinnati Red Stockings, and Topps says they won 69 straight games in 1869 and 1870. That’s somewhat misleading, considering there wasn’t really a professional league at the time. The Cincinnati club traveled around and played local teams in different cities. There’s also a lot of debate as to exactly how many games they won consecutively. We do know that they lost to the Brooklyn Atlantics on June 14, 1870, ending a winning streak that numbered at least 69 games and possibly as many as 92 (or more). The AL record for consecutive wins is 20, by the 2002 Oakland A’s, and the NL record is 21 by the 1880 Chicago White Stockings and 1935 Cubs.

Fred Valentine was a standout baseball and football player at Tennessee State University in the mid-’50s, and was signed by the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent in 1956. He played briefly for the O’s in 1959, making him part of the early wave of African-American players in the major leagues.

He didn’t make it back to the big leagues until 1963, when he had another brief stint with Baltimore. He was purchased by the Senators after the ’63 season. He had a rough time in 1964, with a .226 average and only nine extra-base hits in 240 plate appearances. That performance sent him back to the minors for most of 1965, where he was great with Hawaii (.324/.406/.534 with 25 homers).

He returned to Washington in 1966 and had his best year, posting a line of .276/.351/.455 with 16 homers, 29 doubles, and 59 RBI in 146 games. He also stole 22 bases, and finished 21st in the AL MVP voting.

He was a full-timer again in 1967, but his OPS fell from .806 the previous year to .676. He still hit 11 homers, but his batting average and slugging percentage plummeted to .234 and .346, respectively.

After struggling through the first half of the 1968 season, he was traded back to Baltimore for young pitcher Bruce Howard. Valentine hit just .187 in 99 PA with the O’s and was done as a major leaguer. He had a decent year in AAA in 1969, but that was the end of his career. He’s now 74 years old.

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