"I smile a lot," he says. "It drives some people crazy. I understand that. You see somebody who smiles a lot.... Steve Garvey always was smiling. People hated him for it. I just smile."
"Bobby is always doing something," Grieve says. "I think he goes on about four hours of sleep. At the same time, he can sleep anywhere. I'm no psychologist, but from what I've read, he's the classic Type A personality. And I don't think he's ever been embarrassed a day in his life."
The people who deal with him every day say that he can be sarcastic and he can be friendly. He can be warm and he can be mean. He has a voice that can be heard above the din of a stadium filled with 40,000 people. The words can be funny or profane. They never seem to be dull.
"O.K., so I'm the manager of Nolan Ryan," Valentine says. "Nolan and I get along fine. I have asked him to do only one thing for me. I said, 'Nolan, every time you pitch at our stadium, it's filled with people who have come just to see you. Now, a lot of those times, I'm going to have to be the guy who has to come out and get you. This is not going to be a popular decision. When I come out and get you, can you just stay on the mound for a minute? Give the ball to the relief pitcher and wait. I'll say what I have to say and we'll walk off the mound together to a great standing ovation. O.K.?'
"He never does it. I go out to get him. He gives the ball to the relief pitcher. He walks. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. I talk. I walk. Booooooooooooo. Valentine, you no-good——-."
"What you do is look for the X," Valentine is saying. "This is a mystery. We're searching for the X. How much is the X worth? The whole thing is to find out what the X is worth."
He is teaching algebra to the batboys. He has learned that they have been released from their Port Charlotte schools during spring training to do their jobs, that they are getting credit for being bat-boys. He thinks this is terrible. What's the class supposed to be, Hit and Run 101? So he is giving his own classes on the bus.
"The other day was civics," he says. "It was about Super Tuesday. The system for nominating, then electing a president. The electoral college. All of that."
He is, for himself, learning Spanish. He took a two-week Berlitz course before camp opened, working toward a point where he can speak Spanish with Ruben Sierra and Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez and the other Latin players who dominate his team's roster. He carries his book of Spanish idioms and his book of 501 Spanish verbs with him. He listens to Berlitz tapes in the car.