Last September the Los Angeles Dodgers announced plans to honor franchise icons Steve Garvey, Don Newcombe and Fernando Valenzuela as the inaugural class of “Legends of Dodger Baseball.” That culminates Saturday with an on-field ceremony at Dodger Stadium to officially enshrine Valenzuela.
The beloved left-hander will of course be on hand for the unveiling of his plaque, and Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrín, former Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia and famed scout Mike Brito are also scheduled to attend.
The induction ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. and will feature guest speakers sharing their favorite memories and offering kind messages to celebrate Valenzuela. After the plaque is unveiled, it will be installed alongside Garvey’s and Newcombe’s on the top deck at Dodger Stadium.
Coinciding with the celebration is a Fernando Valenzuela bobblehead giveaway that will be distributed to the first 40,000 ticketed fans in attendance.
During his 11-year career with the Dodgers, Valenzuela was named National League Rookie of the Year, won a Cy Young and Silver Slugger Award that same season (1981), was a six-time All-Star and part of two teams that won the World Series.
Along with his extraordinary performance on the field, Valenzuela was just as impactful, if not more, off of it. He spawned ‘Fernandomania’ and connected with the fanbase more than any other player in franchise history had.
Valenzuela has maintained ties to the Dodgers organization since retiring, and continues to work as their Spanish-language broadcaster.
“The Dodgers have meant so much to me during my 11 years on the field, and now 16 in the broadcast booth, and I’m honored to be among the first Dodger Legends,” Valenzuela said at the time the Legends of Dodger Baseball class was announced. “Thank you to the Dodger organization for this great recognition, and to the fans for their years of support.”
The initiative solves a dilemma of sorts for the Dodgers when it comes to retiring jersey numbers. With the exception of Jim Gilliam (No. 19), the franchise have only done so for Hall of Famers.
Hall-of-Fame broadcasters Vin Scully and Jarrín represent the only non-players to have received similar recognition and be inducted into the Dodger Stadium Ring of Honor.