La Mirada, California native Eric Valent was a college baseball standout in every way imaginable. More than two decades after his career at UCLA ended, he still holds the Pac-10 record for career home runs with 69. The powerful hitter also still holds team records for career RBI with over 200.
He led the Bruins to the 1997 College World Series and was named Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1998. Valent was selected in the first round of the 1998 MLB Supplemental Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies.
During his five year MLB career, Valent showed legitimate power at the plate. His best season was 2004 while playing for the New York Mets, when he recorded career highs in every statistical category.
In a segment published last week, we talked to him about collecting and his memorable rookie photo shoot. This week he joins us for the latest installment of Card Back Q&A where he addresses some of what was on the back of his baseball cards like pumping iron with Troy Glaus, being amazed by Darin Erstad and Jim Edmonds on ice and his very first Little League long ball.
Tony Reid-Exhibiting a way with words, your 2001 Donruss card stated, “1998 Pac 10 Player of the Year “Valiantly” led conference in Home Runs” I guess they tried, right?
Eric Valent- Wow. I don’t think I even remember reading that.
EV-In Southern California, Troy Glaus, Peter Zamora and I would train together. We would go hit with Shawn Green. Being in Southern California, there were so many pro ball players. It was working out, going to hit and going to lunch. We would just enjoy each other’s company. One time Troy and I were hitting, it was probably 2000 or so, and he said he wanted to go over to this ice skating rink. He wanted to see Jim Edmonds and Darin Erstad. We went to the rink and I remember seeing those guys on the ice. To be on skates is one thing. To be on skates with a hockey stick in your hand is another. It was amazing to see how good those guys were on the skates. Erstad was a very good hockey player growing up. Edmonds was right there behind him. It was impressive. It’s one thing to play the guitar. It’s another to play the guitar and sing. It’s kind of like that in hockey. Get on skates, OK, now try to hit a puck.
TR–One of your earlier cards was an ode to Little League and your time playing Connie Mack baseball. What is your fondest Little League moment?
EV-My first year in Single A ball, the year after Tee Ball, I hit my first home run. My dad was actually coaching my older brother in the stadium in right field. The dugout was right behind the Single A field. I hit my first home run off this kid named Duke. I think is was Duke Farmer.