March 23, 2011

AMHERST, Mass.—On Wednesday, April 6, at 4:30 p.m. in Amherst College’s Stirn Auditorium, ESPN baseball analyst Bobby Valentine, former manager of the New York Mets and Chiba Lotte Marines; William Kelly ’68, professor of anthropology and Sumitomo Professor of Japanese Studies at Yale University; and Frank Ramppen, former bench coach of the Chiba Lotte Marines, will discuss baseball in Japan. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Amherst Department of Athletics, the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations and the Mead Art Museum with support from the Dean of the Faculty, the John Whitney Hall Fund and Mark DeWaele ’79.

Born May 13, 1950, in Stamford, Conn., Valentine managed the Texas Rangers (1985–1992) and the New York Mets (1996–2002) baseball teams. His managing led to the late-1990s and early-2000s resurgence of the Mets, which culminated in 1999 with a wild card berth and a loss to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series, and with a National League pennant in 2000. (The Mets then lost the 2000 World Series to their crosstown rival the New York Yankees, four games to one.) He also served as manager of the Japanese Pacific League Chiba Lotte Marines (2003—2009). On Oct. 17, 2005, he led the Marines to win the Pacific League pennant for the first time in 31 years in a close playoff with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. On Oct. 26, the team became Japan Series champions with a victory over the Hanshin Tigers, as well as the first Asia Series champions over Samsung Lions in finals. He served briefly as manager for the same team in 1995, when the team surprised most Japanese baseball fans by finishing in second place (69–58–3), a remarkable feat for the Marines, which had not won the Japanese Pacific league pennants since 1974. In addition to owning and operating a restaurant, Bobby V’s, and Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy, he now works as an analyst for ESPN and as the director of public safety and public health for his native Stamford.

Kelly is a noted authority on the social and historical anthropology of Japan. He has focused much of his research in the last two decades on regional agrarian societies in Japan. Since 1996, however, he has been conducting field research on the history and present patterns of professional baseball in the cities of Osaka and Kobe in Japan. He is now finishing a historical ethnography of one of the Kansai baseball clubs, the Hanshin Tigers, titled The Hanshin Tigers and the Practices of Professional Baseball in Modern Japan. He is also co-editing This Sporting Life: Sports and Body Culture in Modern Japan with Atsuo Sugimoto of Kyoto University of Education and Fanning the Flames: Fandoms and Consumer Culture in Contemporary Japan. After earning a B.A. in anthropology from Amherst and a Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from Brandeis University, Kelly joined the faculty at Yale in 1980. He has served as chair of the Department of Anthropology, chair of the Council on East Asian Studies and director of undergraduate studies for East Asian studies.

Also a native of Stamford, Ramppen was a three-year starting baseball player at the University of Tampa and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins after his junior year in 1980. He played four years in the Twins organization as an infielder. He later graduated from Sacred Heart University with a degree in business management. In 2005, when the Marines won the Nipon Championship, all four of Ramppen’s infielders earned gold gloves for the first time in Japanese baseball history. He is currently a business partner with Valentine at his restaurant and helps operate Valentine’s Baseball Academy, which he co-founded.