When Fernando Valenzuela got the call up to the Dodgers bullpen in 1980, fans had no idea what sort of madness they were in store for. Valenzuela helped Los Angeles tie with the Astros in the NL West with 17?2?3 scoreless innings of relief in 10 games. The following year, Fernandomania took over the entire city.
Valenzuela would go on to win a Cy Young award and the Rookie of the Year award in 1981. Fernando would draw in some of the largest crowds imaginable throughout his starts that year, including a lot of love and support from the Latino community. The Dodgers went on to win the World Series, throwing two complete games in their playoff run.
Today marks 40 years since Valenzuela made his Major League debut with the Dodgers. Manager Dave Roberts was asked about the impact he had on the city and what he meant to baseball in Los Angeles. As expected, Doc had all of the praise imaginable for Fernando.
Fernando on many levels has impacted not only the Mexican community but Major League Baseball, the Dodgers. He’s just such a good man. I didn’t realize it’s been 40 years that’s crazy. And for him to still be on the Spanish broadcast, he just paved the way. And we have two guys right now in our club that idolize him in Julio and Victor. He was a trailblazer or trendsetter, whatever you want to call him but just what a great Dodger and I’m happy he was a Dodger.
Fernando spends his time nowadays as the color commentator for SportsNet LA’s Spanish feed. He’s been calling games for the Dodgers since 2003, previously working alongside Jaime Jarrín and Pepe Ýñiguez in the Spanish-language radio booth