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01/14/11 10:01 AM EST

Valentine trying his hand at local government

Former skipper accepts position with Stamford, Conn., cabinet

Bobby Valentine spent two decades proving his intelligence in baseball dugouts. Now, he'll get a chance to prove it in another arena -- municipal government.

Valentine on Thursday was named the director of public health and safety in Stamford, Conn. A cabinet position, Valentine's new role will involve facilitating communication between the city's mayor, Michael Pavia, and the local law enforcement, fire department, emergency medical services and department of health. Valentine and Pavia held a press conference on Thursday at Stamford's Government Center.

"I'm going to give this my best effort," Valentine told the Stamford Advocate. "The thought of trying to do good in a very public way is a very exciting challenge in my life."

Stamford has nearly 120,000 residents, according to the the most recent available Census records. Public Safety, Health and Welfare accounted for 24 percent of Stamford's expenditures for the fiscal year ending in June 2010, according to the city controller's 2010 annual audit. The city spent more than $99 million of its total government funds on public safety during that fiscal year and more than $27 million on health and welfare.

Valentine, a Stamford native, has some experience managing well-funded organizations. He won 1,117 games as a Major League manager with the Mets and Rangers, and he led New York to the 2000 National League pennant. Moreover, he has owned a sports-themed bar and restaurant in the city for three decades. He spent the past six months spearheading a fire department task force for Pavia, who was convinced he was ready for more responsibility.

"He knows the operation of fire service as well as anybody in Stamford," Pavia told the Advocate. "What that shows me is his commitment to what has to be done."

The announcement of Valentine's new role wasn't met with universal acclaim, however. Sgt. Joe Kennedy, president of the Stamford police union, expressed his doubts about Valentine to the Advocate.

"When do we get to meet Derek Jeter?" Kennedy said. "Honestly, I guess this is going to be a ceremonial position. I know he's a nice guy, [but] I have no idea what his professional background is going to bring to this position."

Valentine, who is an analyst on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, said that he would approach the job with diligence and transparency. He told the Advocate that he would donate the office's salary, $10,000 per year, to local charities.

"I get up early, I go to bed late," he said. "There's plenty of hours in the day that I get to do the things that I need to do. I'll be very accessible to anyone who needs me here in the city."

Sunil Joshi is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.