The devastation in Japan hits home for Bobby Valentine. The Stamford native managed for seven years in the country, and says he loved the people and its culture. The people loved him back, and news of the earthquake and tsunami that rocked the nation have left him stunned.

"I feel so helpless,'' Valentine wrote in an email Saturday. "This is going to be a life-changing event."

Valentine's first reaction was to reach out to friends. He said he has been in touch with many of them. "All of them seem fine but have a very difficult road to recovery,'' he wrote. "Many have no water. I still have not heard from one friend or his family in Sendai."

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1995 for one year and returned to the team in 2004. In 2005, he led the Marines to the Japan Series title, its first crown since 1974. He was fired after the 2009 season, despite a petition with 112,000 signatures that encouraged the team to retain him.

Valentine loved the fans back.

In his blog in 2009, he wrote: "There might not be words to sufficiently express my love and appreciation for the greatest fans in baseball. You moved me to tears when I was met at the airport in January. You amazed me and the entire baseball world with your petition drive. You inspire me and the players every single game with your banners, songs and your relentless passion and commitment to this team. All of it will be part of me forever. I deeply respect the traditions and culture of Japan. And, especially, my love for Japanese baseball will never fade."

Valentine is a commentator for ESPN. He was also named the director of public safety in Stamford earlier this year by Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia.

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