Unsung Hero This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   On a team full of big names and even bigger salaries, there was one Red Sox player this season whose hard work was overlooked by many: shortstop, John Valentin. Many games were won either because of his hustling defense or his aggressive hitting.

Second in the batting order, in front of the team's two biggest stars, Mo Vaughn and Jose Canseco, this season John Valentin hit 27 home runs and stole 20 bases. His home runs were the most by a Red Sox shortstop since Rico Petrocelli hit 40 in 1969. John also became the most recent Boston player to hit over 20 homers and steal more than 20 bases in one season. The last player who did this was Ellis Burks in 1987.

Valentin accidentally found his way into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. In a game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park, in the strike-shortened 1994 season, John turned an unassisted triple play. No player to date has turned one. The ball he used, along with his cap, jersey, and spikes from that memorable evening are all resting in Cooperstown.

One of the main reasons that the Boston Red Sox captured the American League East crown this season is that when things got wild on the playing field, John Valentin was always there to calm his teammates.

Valentin seems to go unnoticed partly because he is so humble. In one game this season where he slugged three home runs over Fenway's historic Green Monster, the fans gave him a two-minute standing ovation. Instead of taking a fancy, showy curtain call, he humbly tipped his cap to the Fenway Faithful and quietly stepped into the dugout to focus the attention back on the man in the batter's box instead on him.

Also going unnoticed is his charity work. For every dinger he sent out of the park this season, he donated 13 tickets (13 because that's his number) to the Dana-Farber Cancer Society, (known as "The Jimmy Fund"). He would personally greet these children at those games.

So in a season where Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played streak, Ramon Martinez pitched a no-hitter for the L.A. Dodgers, the Seattle Mariners overtook the Angels to win the A. L. West, and the Atlanta Braves won the World Series in their third try of the '90s ,John Valentin quietly had himself a season to remember. l


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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