What’s next for Bobby Valentine?
After Stamford mayoral defeat, divorce records offer glimpse into financials
STAMFORD — After losing a contentious mayoral race and leaving his post as Sacred Heart University’s athletic director, Bobby Valentine still plans to remain in the public eye.
Valentine is releasing a memoir next week, will be featured in a documentary about the role of Major League Baseball in the aftermath of 9/11 and has invested in a Stamford production company.
As Valentine prepares for these new projects, his divorce records offer a glimpse for the first time into details about some of his business successes and investment ups and downs, how COVID-19 pandemic relief funding has helped steady a Stamford sports facility in which he holds an interest, and why a judge questioned part of his testimony.
The divorce ended his 42-year marriage with Mary Ellen Branca Valentine. The former couple has lived separately since around 2011, when Mary Valentine moved from their North Stamford home to Massachusetts, according to the divorce documents.
On Aug. 26, Justice Kathleen A. Sandman, of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court for the Hampden County Division, issued an amended judgment granting the divorce, which applies retroactively to an earlier July ruling on the divorce.
In the divorce documents, which refer to Bobby Valentine as the “Husband” and Mary Valentine as the “Wife,” the justice credited the former MLB manager with several successful business investments, while also acknowledging “bad investments.”
The justice also praised the couple’s charity work, particularly Bobby Valentine’s efforts after the 9/11 attacks and in the aftermath of a tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.
However, in the divorce findings, the judge also questioned Bobby Valentine’s credibility when he testified about the amount of money he spent on a woman he was “romantically involved” with while he was legally still married to Mary Valentine.
“The husband testified that he spent less than $1,000 each year” on the woman since 2012, the justice wrote in the court’s divorce findings. “The court does not find the husband’s testimony credible.”
While Bobby Valentine offered to speak to Hearst Connecticut Media Group about the justice’s divorce ruling, he did not respond to requests for an interview. However, he responded via email to questions about details in the divorce ruling.
In his email, Bobby Valentine said his testimony was an “estimate” on how much he spent on the woman, who was identified in court documents as Junko Ogino. Court documents show Bobby Valentine met Ogino while he was in Japan in 1995, but he did not become romantically involved with her until 2007.
Court documents show that Ogino testified she moved into his Stamford home in December 2019, after the divorce was filed in May of that year. The court records state that she “remained in the United States during the pandemic and was afraid to return to Japan” because of COVID.
“The judge thought that the six months a year that I was seeing Miss Ogino that I must have spent more than ($1,000 a) year on her,” Valentine, 71, wrote in his email to Hearst Connecticut Media. “That was my estimate. Considering most meals were eaten at home and it’s much cheaper than eating out every night.”
Alison S. Haytayan, a New Hampshire lawyer who represents Mary Valentine, 68, declined to comment about the divorce.
The justice’s divorce ruling also focused on Bobby Valentine’s business dealings.
The divorce case’s financial filings are sealed and closed to the public, but the court’s Aug. 26 memorandum of findings in support of the amended divorce judgment show the couple had few concerns about money during their decades together, and that Mary Valentine described herself as “chief financial officer” for the family.
The justice found that Bobby Valentine “made good investments, including but not limited to his restaurants and ... Big Fish Games,” which had a net value of $1.1 million on a $125,000 initial investment.
Along with some wins, including earning more than $20 million from 2004 to 2009, a period in which his team won the Japanese World Series in 2005, the court’s findings indicate that a Stamford athletics firm in which Valentine holds a 40 percent interest received a Paycheck Protection Program loan during the pandemic.
The court’s ruling also notes that his now ex-wife testified that he made some “bad investments on which she was not consulted” relating to property in Costa Rica and Florida, though the court made no express finding on this testimony.
The justice instead stated that the court “finds that while certainly bad investments were made over the years, that on balance the husband’s significant earnings and the parties’ good investments more than provided for the financial security they both enjoyed during the marriage and will still enjoy after their divorce.”
In addition, according to the court’s divorce ruling, his now ex-wife testified that the Valentines lost $3 million in an account managed by a UBS group during the Great Recession of 2008, but the court also made no finding on this testimony.
The divorce ruling lists, as part of the marital estate, Texas Rent Account, an entity with a note receivable from the company that owns Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy.
In his email, Valentine downplayed or denied the alleged losses and denied ever owning property in Costa Rica.
“Along with six other partners, we still own two condos in Florida and have seen their values go up since 2008,” Valentine wrote in the email.
“We might have had $3 (million) invested in stocks with UBS during the crash, but we did not lose $3 (million) in UBS,” he wrote. “And the stocks have come back.”
The court’s Aug. 26 memorandum of findings in support of the amended divorce judgment states that Valentine has a 40-percent share in Stamford Sports Associates.
According to the court’s findings, Stamford Sports Associates was not profitable from 2016 through 2018, and made $30,000 in profits in 2019.
At the time of its August findings, the court stated the entity is “currently operating at a loss, but had an infusion of a PPP loan during the recent pandemic, which helped to keep it afloat.” Hearst Connecticut Media does not have information on the current state of that business.
According to federalpay.org, a non-governmental information portal, Stamford Sports Associates drew two federal PPP loans, of $126,640 in April 2020 and $126,645 in March of this year.
The 2020 loan was forgiven after the federal criteria was met, according to ProPublica. According to ProPublica’s information, Stamford Sports Associates listed six employees and used all of the $126,640 on payroll.
Hearst Connecticut Media was unable to independently confirm the details about the loans.
In his email, Bobby Valentine said moving the sports academy to a larger facility in Stamford’s Springdale neighborhood resulted in a monthly rent of $45,000, plus renovation and start-up costs. As a result, he said the academy lost $2,500 in 2017, lost $1,505 in 2018, but made $25,700 in 2019 and $55,020 in 2020. He predicted a $100,000 profit this year.
“Seems like a reasonable pattern for a new business,” Valentine wrote. “Lose the most in the first year, lose a little less in the second year, make a little in the third, make a little more in the fourth and have a decent year in the fifth. Making money this year. Negotiated with (the) landlord during (the) pandemic. All past rent is paid and one PPP loan is forgiven and (the) other looks good also.”
Valentine’s ‘brand’ value
On Oct. 22, Melissa Gillis, a Springfield attorney representing Bobby Valentine, filed a complaint for a modification of alimony, requesting a reduction or termination of the alimony order as it relates to his income from wages earned at SHU. Gillis noted that on Oct. 31 — two days before the Stamford mayoral election — the SHU severance payments would end.
On Monday, Gillis filed a motion supporting the request to modify, reduce or vacate the court’s order for Bobby Valentine to pay his ex-wife weekly alimony of $2,475.
“My salary was going to change and so we are asking the judge how to adjust payments,” Valentine wrote in his email to Hearst Connecticut Media prior to Monday’s filing. “Of course, not even I could run for mayor and be executive director (of ) athletics at the same time, so my deputy Judy Ann Ricco is now AD. We left the door open about returning in (some) other capacity.”
A SHU spokesperson said Wednesday that Valentine had not rejoined the university.
In Monday’s filing, Gillis said Bobby Valentine is “not currently employed and unlikely to become employed further, and certainly not at a $259,000” annual salary that he earned at SHU. The filing also notes that the division of marital assets as a result of the divorce “has significantly reduced the flow of money” to Bobby Valentine.
Gillis did not respond to requests for comment.
According to the court’s divorce findings, Bobby Valentine argued in the divorce proceedings that his “brand” value had decreased.
“The husband has had benefits associated with his persona throughout the parties’ marriage and will most likely continue to do so,” Judge Sandman wrote.
“The husband argues that while he does have a benefit for who he is and for what he has achieved, his brand benefit is not what it once was, and that he is not actively searching for branding opportunities. The court finds the assessments of both parties credible in that the husband does have brand recognition but that his opportunities are less than in the days he was coaching baseball, opining on ESPN or managing his own restaurants.”
Valentine’s V Plus company has licensing agreements with Sportech Venues Inc., the state’s longtime parimutuel betting company. Those agreements generated $1.6 million in income for the Valentines from 2017 through 2020, the judge noted.
Sportech has partnered with the Connecticut Lottery Corp., as the state this year has legalized sports wagering, which is now available at Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar locations in Stamford and Windsor Locks.
Valentine established a restaurant chain during his career as a baseball manager and coach in Texas, Boston and New York. According to the divorce order, his restaurants closed in Milford, Norwalk, Middletown, R.I., and Queens, N.Y., along with two in Arlington, Texas, from when he managed the Rangers.
What’s next for Valentine
During their marriage, Bobby Valentine traveled around the country and the world, first as a player whose hard-luck injuries cut short his career, then as an itinerant coach and manager.
According to divorce records, for decades, Mary Valentine — the daughter of the late Ralph Branca, a storied pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers who gave up a famous home run in a 1951 playoff game to the New York Giants — stayed at home, raised their son, and with the assistance of professionals managed most of the finances.
In his email to Hearst Connecticut Media, Valentine pointed to what’s next for him after losing his unaffiliated Stamford mayoral bid this month by 5 percentage points to Democrat Caroline Simmons.
At the top of the list is his memoir, “Valentine’s Way,” cowritten by veteran sports writer Peter Golenbock. that is expected to be released Tuesday by Permuted Press and distributed by Simon & Schuster.
“One publication says it’s the best sports book of the year,” Valentine wrote in his email, without specifying what publication he was referring to.
The Simon & Schuster website calls it “A once-in-a-generation book that leaves no great story untold, this is an invaluable document for anyone wondering what it’s really like to play and work in the rarefied world of Major League Baseball.”
Other projects in the works for Valentine include a video production of MLB’s participation in the period immediately following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when Valentine was the manager of the New York Mets.
Valentine has also invested in the production company Makuhari Media LLC, registered to a downtown Stamford address. Valentine is listed as executive producer of a video produced by the company called “The Greatest Beer Run Ever.”