Dodgers Video: Fernando Valenzuela Jersey Retirement Ceremony

The Los Angeles Dodgers officially inducted Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34 into the Ring of Honor at Dodger Stadium on Friday as part of “Fernandomania Weekend,” making him the 12th player to have his number retired by the club and the 14th person to have their name among the honorees with Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín as the two non-players receiving the honor.

“I believe so,” Valenzuela said when asked if it was one of the greatest days of his life. “This is a very emotional day.”

The Dodgers held a pregame ceremony with Dodgers legends and special guests in attendance, including Sandy Koufax, Mike Scioscia, Julio Urías, senator Alex Padilla, team president and CEO Stan Kasten, Charley Steiner and Jarrin. Steiner hosted the event while introducing each of the guests.

The Valenzuela family was also in attendance, sitting in chairs on the field off to the side of the stage.

“It means a lot,” Valenzuela said. “That number was open, but nobody used it. I don’t know if that was a decision from the clubhouse manager, but it surprised me because it’s not a high number, it’s not 76, 77, 78, and nobody used it.”

Valenzuela’s career took off when he made an unexpected start and pitched a shutout of the Houston Astros on Opening Day in 1981. It led to eight consecutive victories, all of them complete games, including five shutouts and a streak of 35 scoreless innings, which gave rise to the phenomenon known as “Fernandomania.”

Valenzuela earned the nickname “El Toro” and immediately created an almost unparalleled and lasting impact. The left-hander single-handedly grew the Dodgers fanbase during this time, not just among Mexicans living in L.A. and Mexico, but among those in other Spanish-speaking countries as well, and the impact still lasts today.

“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.”

Valenzuela went on to win the National League Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award and a World Series championship in 1981, making him the only player in MLB history to win both awards in the same season. The southpaw won a career-high 21 games in 1986 and threw a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 29, 1990, in which Scully exclaimed after the final out: “If you have a sombrero, throw it to the sky!”

In his 11 seasons with the Dodgers from 1980-1990, Valenzuela was selected to six All-Star teams, won two Silver Slugger Awards (1981, 1983) and was part of two World Series championship teams. He finished his career among the all-time Dodgers leaders in starts (320, fourth), innings (2,348.2, fourth), complete games (107, fourth), strikeouts (1,769, fifth), shutouts (29, fifth) and wins (141, sixth).

Los Angeles City Council establishes Fernando Valenzuela Day

The Los Angeles City Council issued a special proclamation to declare August 11, 2023, as “Fernando Valenzuela Day” in the city of Los Angeles. Valenzuela joins Justin Turner, who played nine seasons for the Dodgers, in being recognized with such an honor by the city.

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