The Los Angeles Dodgers announced Saturday that legendary pitcher Fernando Valenzuela will have his No. 34 retired this season.
Valenzuela, who was nicknamed “El Toro” as he took the Dodgers by storm at 20 years old in 1981 on his way to his only Cy Young Award of his career, was present at Dodger Stadium on Saturday during Dodgers Fan Fest, where the announcement was made.
“To be part of the group that includes so many legends is a great honor,” Valenzuela told Dodgers Insider. “But also for the fans — the support they’ve given me as a player and working for the Dodgers, this is also for them. I’m happy. I’m happy for all the fans and all the people who have followed my career. They’re going to be very happy to know that my No. 34 is retired.”
Valenzuela will have his jersey retired on Aug. 11 during the Dodgers’ season. However, “Fernandomania” deserves more than just one night.
Los Angeles will make it an entire weekend, with a collector’s edition bobblehead given out to fans on Aug. 12 and a replica 1981 World Series ring given out on Aug. 13.
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“What he accomplished during his playing career, not only on the field but in the community, is extraordinary,” Dodgers team president Stan Kasten said. “He truly lit up the imaginations of baseball fans everywhere. It’s hard to envision a player having a greater impact on a fan base than the one Fernando has had.”
Valenzuela played a key part in bringing the Dodgers their fifth franchise title in 1981, defeating the New York Yankees in six games. He was named Rookie of the Year and received the Cy Young Award that season, pitching to a 2.48 ERA in 25 starts (192.1 innings).
In his 11 years with the Dodgers, Valenzuela owned a 3.31 ERA in 331 games, striking out 1,759 batters over 2,348.2 innings.
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Valenzuela would move on to the then-California Angels in 1991, but he did not do well in two starts. He would play in Mexico in 1992 before returning to MLB the next year with the Baltimore Orioles.
The crafty left-hander would play for the Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals before retiring after the 1997 season.
Valenzuela finished his career with six All-Star nods, two Silver Slugger awards and a Gold Glove.
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