Vaughn, Valentin feel at home at Fenway

August, 31, 2011
BOSTON -- Once you’re Red Sox, you’re always a Red Sox.

Mo Vaughn and John Valentin proved that point on Wednesday. The former Red Sox players are in town to help out the annual Jimmy Fund Telethon. Vaughn, a fan favorite, came up through the Red Sox organization and played for Boston from 1991 to 1998 before departing for Anaheim and later ending his career with the Mets.

“We don’t want to remember those Anaheim and Mets days anyway,” Vaughn said. “The name I made for myself I made it here in Boston, and I’m in the Red Sox Hall of Fame. This is where it’s at.”

Valentin played from 1992 to 2001.

“It’s just a blessing to have spent my whole career here,” he said. “It was a blessing.”

It’s also fitting they’re both in town while the Red Sox are playing the Yankees. Both admitted there’s nothing quite like being a part of this storied rivalry.

“This is where’s it’s at,” Vaughn said. “When I was playing we weren’t very good, so the rivalry wasn’t what it is now. This is a great thing. You always get up when you play the Yankees; it’s just the way it is. It’s good to see us doing what we’re doing now.”

A lot of things have changed within the Red Sox organization since Vaughn and Valentin were here. Ownership has changed. The ballpark has changed. And the club has won two World Series titles.

"The atmosphere is fantastic and that’s what happens when you win,” Valentin said. “The negative energy, it seems like it’s not here anymore in a sense. Winning two World Series and I think Red Sox fans are, at least for a little while, at peace.”

Both still keep close tabs on the current state of the Red Sox. In fact, Vaughn has been enjoying watching fellow left-handed hitters David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez pepper the left-field wall here in similar fashion as he used to.

“If you have a little bit of power you can put the ball where you want to put it,” Vaughn said. “With an inside-out swing you can put it to the opposite field and attack that Green Monster all day. I learned that from Mike Easler and I stuck with it when I was here. It’s a tremendous asset to be able to hit the ball the other way as a left-handed hitter.

“I look at David Ortiz and Adrian, it’s very nice to see those guys go to the Green Monster like that.”

When Vaughn and Valentin walked into the Red Sox clubhouse earlier in the day, Ortiz went over and gave Vaughn a big bear hug.

“He’s better than me,” Vaughn said. “He did it in the clutch. He did it in the World Series. It's great to see somebody else utilize this ballpark.”

Both Vaughn and Valentin participated in the ceremonial first pitch and received a tremendous ovation from the fans.

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



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