The Los Angeles Dodgers kicked off the start of their first homestand of the regular season with a World Series rings ceremony and banner unveiling.
The festivities took place prior to the club’s home opener against the Washington Nationals last Friday, which included fans present at Dodger Stadium for the first time in over a year.
As the weekend continued the Dodgers honored late Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda and celebrated the 40th anniversary of Fernandomania with a pregame ceremony for Fernando Valenzuela.
Valenzuela enjoyed a rookie season for the ages, posting a 2.48 ERA, 2.44 FIP and 1.05 WHIP with 180 strikeouts in 192.1 innings pitched en route to 1981 National League Cy Young Award honors.
The left-hander strung together eight consecutive victories (five shutouts) to start the season, which fell one shy of tying Dave Ferris’ Major League record for most starts in a row won by a rookie.
Valenzuela was a six-time All-Star and part of two World Series teams in his 11 seasons with the Dodgers. His No. 34 has not been worn since departing the team after the 1990 season, but it remains unretired due to the organization’s unofficial policy of only retiring uniform numbers of players who were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Valenzuela is still holding out hope of the Dodgers making an exception, but wouldn’t be opposed to another player wearing the No. 34. “To me, it would be nice. But, right now I don’t see anyone wearing that number,” Valenzuela 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.”
The Dodgers did make an exception for Jim Gilliam, whose No. 19 was retired two days after his sudden death, which came just before the start of the 1978 World Series.
Despite not being part of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Valenzuela was inducted into the Mexican baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
He also was among the players named to the inaugural “Legends of Dodger Baseball” class, receiving the honor along with Don Newcombe and Steve Garvey in November 2018.
Urias honored by comparisons, but notes ‘there will only be one’ Valenzuela
Since making his MLB debut in 2016, Julio Urias has drawn natural comparisons to Valenzuela. The young southpaw revealed last year that he is honored by those comparisons, but noted there will only be one Valenzuela.
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, participate in our shows and giveaways, and more!