The Los Angeles Dodgers have a long history of starting pitchers that more than left their mark on the game. However, only one of the famed pitchers had a name applied to the craze he inspired and that’s Fernando Valenzuela.
Valenzuela debuted with the Dodgers in 1980, but his spotlight came to fruition the following season when he took the mound on Opening Day in 1981. The Mexican native replaced the injured Jerry Reuss and threw a complete-game shutout to earn a win in his first Major League start.
Valenzuela followed the performance with seven consecutive complete games including four shutouts and “Fernandomania” was born. He led the Majors with 11 complete games and eight shutouts that season, and 1981 was the first of seven straight seasons where he reached double-digit wins.
In 11 seasons with the Dodgers, Valenzuela finished with a 141-116 record, was six-time All-Star, and was named the NL Cy Young Award and NL Rookie of the Year winner in 1981. Valenzuela was also part of of two World Series-winning teams.
DodgersNation wishes Valenzuela a happy 54th birthday!