Dodgers To Celebrate The Career Of Legendary Pitcher Fernando Valenzuela with "Fernandomania" Weekend

 

August 10, 2023

The Mexican left-hander will have his jersey No. 34 retired on Friday and Los Angeles City Hall will declare Aug. 11, 2023 as "Fernando Valenzuela Day" in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend will honor the career and legacy of one of the most enduring and popular players in club history, as Fernando Valenzuela, will have his number "34" retired Friday night during a special pregame ceremony. On Friday morning at 10:30 a.m., Valenzuela will be at City Hall, where the Los Angeles City Council will issue a special proclamation and declare Aug. 11, 2023 as "Fernando Valenzuela Day" in the city of Los Angeles.

"Fernandomania" weekend, presented by Yaamava' Resort and Casino will take place Friday, Aug. 11 through Sunday, Aug. 13, when the Dodgers host the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. The festivities will kick off with a pregame Ring of Honor ceremony featuring several distinguished guests in addition to the Valenzuela family. A postgame drone show celebrating Valenzuela's career will also take place on Friday night. On Saturday, the first 40,000 ticketed fans will be treated to a collector's edition Valenzuela bobblehead and the Dodgers will give out a replica Fernando Valenzuela 1981 World Series ring prior to the 1:10 p.m. game on Sunday.

Valenzuela was a member of two World Series championship teams, won the 1981 Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards, was selected to six All-Star teams and even won two Silver Slugger Awards (1981, 1983) during his 11 years with the Dodgers from 1980-90.

"To be a part of the group that includes so many legends is a great honor," said Fernando Valenzuela. "But also for the fans - the support they've given me as a player and working for the Dodgers, this is also for them. I'm happy for all the fans and all the people who have followed my career. They're going to be very excited to know that my No. 34 is being retired."

Valenzuela's number "34" will take its place among those previously displayed on the left field club level-Pee Wee Reese (#1), Tommy Lasorda (#2), Duke Snider (#4), Gil Hodges (#14). Jim Gilliam (#19), Don Sutton (#20), Walter Alston (#24), Sandy Koufax (#32), Roy Campanella (#39), Jackie Robinson (#42), Don Drysdale (#53) and Hall of Fame broadcasters Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín.

I am incredibly happy that number 34 for the Los Angeles Dodgers will be retired forever," said Stan Kasten, Dodger President & CEO. "The one question that I continuously get asked, more than anything else, is about retiring Fernando Valenzuela's number. The citywide call by our fans to honor him is truly remarkable. What he accomplished during his playing career, not only on the field but in the community, is extraordinary. He truly lit up the imaginations of baseball fans everywhere. It's hard to envision a player having a greater impact on a fan base then the one Fernando has had."

Valenzuela's remarkable career placed him among the all-time L.A. Dodger leaders in wins (141, 6th), strikeouts (1,759, 5th), innings (2348.2, 4th), starts (320, 4th), complete games (107, 4th) and shutouts (29, 5th). He is best remembered for bursting onto the scene with a shutout of the Astros on Opening Day 1981. That unexpected outing was made possible when an injured Jerry Reuss couldn't answer the bell and began a run of eight consecutive victories, including five shutouts and a streak of 35 straight scoreless innings. This immediately gave rise to the phenomenon known as "Fernandomania," in which fans would flock to his starts, both at home and on the road. The Mexican left-hander almost single-handedly changed the Dodger fan base in this timeframe and in the coming years, and he would go on to claim the NL Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award and a World Championship in his first full season. He is the only Major Leaguer to ever win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award in the same season.

"El Toro" was celebrated for his unorthodox pitching delivery as well as his signature pitch, the screwball, taught to him by friend and teammate Bobby Castillo in 1979. He would win a career high 21 games in 1986 and throw a no-hitter vs. the Cardinals on June 29, 1990, in which Vin Scully exclaimed after the final out: "If you have a sombrero, throw it to the sky!"

Valenzuela retired in 1997 after 17 big league seasons as the all-time leader in wins (173) and strikeouts (2,074) among Mexican-born Major Leaguers. Following his playing career, Valenzuela rejoined the Dodger organization as a broadcaster in 2003 alongside Jarrín, who first got to know his old broadcasting partner while translating for Valenzuela during the height of "Fernandomania" in 1981.

"He created more baseball fans, and Dodger fans, than any other player," said Jarrín, who called Dodger games from 1959-2022. "Thanks to this kid, people fell in love with baseball. Especially within the Mexican community."

In 2010, Valenzuela was the subject of an "ESPN 30 for 30 documentary," directed by Mexican native and Los Angeles-raised Cruz Angeles, who said this on the eve of the film's debut: "For my generation, I'm talking Generation X, the children of Mexican immigrants that grew up in Southern California in the 1980s, he's not a myth, he was a hero. He was the Mexican who made it and was destroying all of the competition. All fathers wanted their sons to be the next Fernando Valenzuela, and all of us kids would imitate his delivery, looking up to the sky, hands up in the air high and everything. He was one of us, and we wanted to be like him."

A native of Etchohuaquila, Sonora, Mexico, Valenzuela has been active in both the Los Angeles and Mexican communities during his post-playing career. He was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame on August 23, 2003, in a pregame on the field ceremony at Dodger Stadium, and in 2013 he was enshrined into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame. More recently, the Mexican Baseball League retired his No. 34 in 2019. Valenzuela has served as a player, coach and general manager for Team Mexico in several international competitions, including the World Baseball Classic.

He was inducted into the "Legends of Dodger Baseball" in 2019 and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 2015. Last year, he was honored with the "Outstanding Americans by Choice" recognition from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Service.

Valenzuela is married to Linda Valenzuela and lives in Los Angeles. He is very proud of his two sons, two daughters, and seven grandchildren.

 

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