Did Bobby Valentine invent the wrap?
It turns out that the Red Sox’s new manager isn’t just an MLB icon, he’s the culinary pioneer popularly credited with the invention of the lunchtime wrap.

THE 2011 SEASON ended in humiliation for the Boston Red Sox, when a combination of poor management, institutional complacency and player misbehaviour conspired to engineer a nearly unprecedented collapse in form.

The man charged with reversing their fortunes in 2012 is none other than Bobby Valentine, a combative and unpredictable veteran of nearly 2,200 games in management.

But as the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Barbarisi reports, Valentine isn’t just a baseball man: he’s a champion ballroom dancer and, most improbably, the man popularly credited with inventing the lunchtime wrap.

Though there are other contenders vying for historical recognition, it appears the Stamford native (who once evaded a pitch-side ban by returning to the dugout in a disguise) is winning the PR war:

“‘Oy, the wrap thing,’ Valentine said as he shook his head Thursday at his introduction as the new Boston skipper.

“It’s a story that Valentine has told for years. That in 1980, he was crafting a club sandwich at his Stamford restaurant, Bobby Valentine’s Sports Gallery Café, when the toaster broke. At a loss, Valentine wrapped the sandwich components in a tortilla. The former big leaguer called it a Club Mex, but others took to calling it by a different name, and voilà: The wrap was born.”

Culinary historian (yes, really) Andrew Smith is content to see Valentine recognised for elaborating on the burrito format, a move that, in his view, sparked “a revolution in sandwiches,” but others aren’t so happy.

The owners of both I Love Juicy, a Californian restaurant chain, and Sami’s Falafel, a Boston culinary institution, are both disputing the MLB legend’s place in the history books.

“I was thinking of that this morning. Every time I hear them say that [Valentine] made it, I start yelling—we’ve been making wraps in Lebanon forever,” said Sami Saba, son of the restaurant’s founder.

“… We never called it that—we called it a roll-up, and we use Syrian bread, Lebanese bread.”

Minor disputes aside, if a thinker capable of completely revolutionising the craft of sandwich-making is taking the reins at Fenway Park, surely Red Sox fans can dare to dream?

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