The Los Angeles Dodgers held Fernando Valenzuela bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, which also coincided with the start of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles performed before first pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers also held a pregame ceremony to honor Valenzuela. Actor Edward James Olmos emceed and spoke glowingly about Valenzuela’s impact on the local community.
Valenzuela was accompanied on the field by several family members and the Dodgers played a video that featured messages from select fans discussing the impact the left-hander made on them.
Valenzuela made his MLB debut in 1980, but it was the following season that “Fernandomania” spawned. Valenzuela started that campaign 8-0 with a minuscule 0.50 ERA and 68 strikeouts over 72 innings while holding opponents to a .172/.225/.212 batting line.
He finished the season with a 13–7 record, 2.48 ERA, eight shutouts and 11 complete games in 24 starts. Valenzuela became the first pitcher to win both Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same season, and he also took home a Silver Slugger.
The Dodgers previously celebrated Valenzuela and the 40th anniversary of “Fernandomania” with a pregame ceremony during their first homestand of the 2021 season, and he is also featured in the renovated center plaza area with a mural and display commemorating both his impressive rookie season and overall career.
“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 earlier this year.
“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 understands Dodgers not retiring number
With an unofficial team policy of only retiring jersey numbers of Hall of Famers — and an exception made for Jim Gilliam due to his tragic passing — the Dodgers are yet to immortalize No. 34. Though, no player or coach has worn it since Valenzuela, who is understanding of the situation.
“To me, it would be nice (if it was retired). But, right now I don’t see anyone wearing that number,” he said.
“If anybody wants to wear it, it’s fine. If somebody is asking for that number, no problem. I know it’s going to happen sooner or later, but who knows? I don’t know what the Dodgers are thinking, but I’d be happy if somebody was wearing that number.”
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