One of many best pitchers in Los Angeles Dodgers historical past was honored Friday evening at Dodger Stadium earlier than the sport.
The Dodgers retired Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34 jersey, the culminating occasion within the metropolis council declaration of “Fernando Valenzuela Day.”
In a pregame second, the 62-year-old Valenzuela admitted, “It’s very emotional” to a crowded room of English and Spanish-language media hours earlier than the ceremony. “I never expected it.”
A drone present honoring Valenzuela is predicted after the sport towards the Colorado Rockies. On Saturday, the workforce is freely giving his bobblehead, and on Sunday, the giveaway is a duplicate of Valenzuela’s 1981 World Sequence ring.
Valenzuela broke in with the Dodgers in an enormous approach in 1981. Moreover profitable the World Sequence, he received Rookie of the Yr and the Cy Younger Award, the primary participant to take action in the identical 12 months.
He was named the Opening Day starter that 12 months by supervisor Tommy Lasorda and responded with a 2-0 victory over Houston, starting the season with an 8-0 file, together with 5 shutouts, and an 0.50 ERA.
“Tommy Lasorda came up to me and said, ‘Are you ready to pitch tomorrow?’ I said, ‘I’m ready,’” Valenzuela recalled. “That’s what I was looking for, the opportunity to show what I can do.”
Valenzuela’s signature pitch was the screwball, taught to him by teammate Bobby Castillo in 1979.
Past the diamond, he had an enormous cultural influence.
The native of Mexico was credited for drawing massive numbers of Latino followers to Dodger Stadium, creating the “Fernandomania” sensation.
Valenzuela’s now-retired quantity was unveiled on the left subject membership stage, the place he joined earlier honorees Pee Wee Reese, Lasorda, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Jim Gilliam, Don Sutton, Walter Alston, Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Don Drysdale and Corridor of Fame broadcasters Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín.
Valenzuela additionally received the 1988 World Sequence with the Dodgers, in addition to Silver Slugger awards in 1981 and ’83. He pitched for the workforce from 1980-90. He retired in 1997.
Valenzuela is the colour commentator on the Spanish-language broadcasts for its SportsNet LA cable channel.
His profession marks as a Dodger nonetheless put him among the many workforce leaders. Throughout his stint, he had 141 wins, 1,759 strikeouts, 320 begins, and 107 full video games. He additionally had 29 shutouts.
Valenzuela grew to become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2015.