Former major league outfielder Fred Valentine has passed away, the Nationals announced. He was 87 years old.
Valentine, a Mississippi native, attended Tennessee State University. He entered the professional ranks in 1956 as a member of the Orioles organization. Three years later, he made his MLB debut with 12 games for Baltimore. The switch-hitter spent a few more seasons in Triple-A before briefly returning to the big leagues in 1963.
Following the ’63 campaign, the O’s sold his contract to the Washington Senators. Valentine played his first couple years in a part-time role with Washington before a breakout showing in 1966. That season saw him swipe 22 bases, collect 16 home runs and put together a .276/.351/.455 line across 578 trips to the plate. Valentine picked up some down-ballot MVP support during what proved to be a career-best showing. He hit .234/.330/.346 the following season, roughly average output during a year in which the league hit .242/.306/.357.
Midway through the ’68 season, Washington dealt Valentine back to the Orioles for pitcher Bruce Howard. Valentine wrapped up his MLB career with 84 games between the two clubs that year. He spent the 1969 season back in Triple-A before finishing his playing career with a year for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan.
All told, Valentine appeared in parts of seven MLB campaigns. He hit .247/.330/.373 through 533 games, connecting on 36 home runs while stealing 47 bases. Valentine drove in 138 runs and scored 180 times. After his playing career wrapped up, he helped found the MLB Players Alumni Association in 1982.
MLBTR sends our condolences to Valentine’s family, friends, loved ones, former teammates and those who knew him from his time with the MLBPAA.