Dave Roberts Reflects On 40-Year Anniversary Of Fernando Valenzuela’s MLB Debut With Dodgers
Fernando Valenzuela
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Tuesday marked the 40-year anniversary of Fernando Valenzuela making his MLB debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It came the season prior to ‘Fernandomania’ taking hold, and saw the left-hander appear out of the bullpen.

Each of Valenzuela’s 10 games that season was in relief, though he then didn’t pitch out of the bullpen until doing so once for the Baltimore Orioles in 1993.

“Fernando, on many levels, has impacted not only the Mexican community, Major League Baseball, the Dodgers. He’s just such a good man. I didn’t realize it’s been 40 years,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s crazy.

“For him to still be on the Spanish broadcast, he just kind of paved the way. We have two guys right now on our club that idolize him in Julio (Urias) and Victor (Gonzalez). He was a trailblazer, trendsetter, whatever you want to call it. What a great Dodger. I’m happy he was a Dodger.”

Valenzuela allowed one hit, two unearned runs and collected a strikeout over two innings in his first career game. He didn’t factor into the decision of a 9-0 road loss to the Atlanta Braves. That game wound up being the only in which Valenzuela allowed a run — both earned and unearned.

He ultimately went 2-0 with one save, a 0.00 ERA and 0.74 WHIP in 10 games. An injury to Jerry Reuss led to Valenzuela starting Opening Day of the 1981 season, and he proceeded to produce a historic Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year season.

Valenzuela maintaining close ties to Dodgers

In addition to still serving as a Dodgers Spanish-language broadcaster, Valenzuela remains heavily involved with the organization through other means. He again was part of this year’s Dodgers Love L.A. Community Tour, and in 2018 he accompanied the team and threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Mexico Series.

Although Julio Urias was not on the active roster at the time, he too was with the Dodgers for their trip to his native homeland. The Dodgers went on to throw a combined no-hitter, which evoked memories for Valenzuela of throwing his own career no-nos.

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