Dodgers: Dave Roberts on the Impact of Fernando Valenzuela on the 40th Anniversary of His Debut

40 Years ago, the Fernando arrived in Los Angeles.

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

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.


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  1. I remember listening to the Dodgers on KMOX (St Louis) when they played the Cardinals. Fernando would be pitching, Jack Buck announcing the games for the Cardinals. And he would say “struck him out” when a Cardinal went down on strikes. The tone in his voice told me there was nothing the batter could do about it. Fernando was so dominating his first 4 or 5 seasons. Never will forget it. Had to listen to a lot of games on opposing networks here in the Midwest at that time. Buck, Brickhouse (Cubs), Nuxhall (Reds) and others; but the tone in Buck’s voice said it all.

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