This Day In Dodgers History: Fernando Valenzuela Ties National League Rookie Record For Shutouts

Fernando Valenzuela had one of the most remarkable rookies seasons of all-time as ‘Fernandomania’ quickly spread throughout Dodger Stadium and helped create a new generation of Los Angeles Dodgers fans.

During his rookie season, Valenzuela was selected to the National League All-Star team and won the Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year, Silver Slugger and finished fifth in MVP voting.

On his way to those achievements, Valenzuela pitched his seventh shutout of the season on this day in Dodgers history. Facing the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 6, 1981, the southpaw gave up just four hits across nine shutout innings while striking out eight and walking one.

The gave Valenzuela his 12th win of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.37. Additionally, it tied the NL rookie record for most shutouts in a single season, pulling him even with Irv Young (1905 Boston Beaneaters), Grover Alexander (1911 Philadelphia Phillies) and Jerry Koosman (1968 New York Mets).

In a fitting fashion, Valenzuela’s historic season began with a shutout on Opening Day in his first career start and he later set the rookie record with an eighth and final shutout of the season on Sept. 17.

Come October, Valenzuela became the youngest pitcher to start the first game of any postseason series. He later pitched a complete game in Game 3 of the World Series, helping the Dodgers defeat the New York Yankees to win their fifth championship in franchise history.

Valenzuela finished his rookie season making 25 starts with a 2.48 ERA, 2.44 FIP and 1.04 WHIP in 192.1 innings while going 13-7. With 180 strikeouts, he became the first rookie pitcher to lead the NL in punchouts while also leading the league in innings, shutouts and complete games (11).

Fernando Valenzuela receives Outstanding Americans by Choice award

Dodger Stadium was the site of a special naturalization ceremony in 2022 that saw more than 2,100 people took the oath of allegiance, with Valenzuela among those participating.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services partnered with the Dodgers to make the ceremony possible, which was the first of its kind at Dodger Stadium.

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