February 24, 2024
Fernando Valenzuela, in a sport with the Los Angeles Dodgers, in an undated picture.Bernstein Associates (Getty Photographs)

There was a time, not too way back, when baseball may very well be summed up in a single phrase: Fernandomania. The eighties had its poster idol, one which was solid within the city of Etchohuaquila, in Sonora. Fernando Valenzuela had such a robust left foot that it made him stand out amongst his 11 brothers. The baseball boy needed to achieve the best discussion board of the game, in the USA, a rustic to which hundreds of Mexicans emigrated. He achieved that aim, however that may be an understatement: Valenzuela rewrote historical past for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Earlier than reaching the age of majority, Valenzuela had already had a very good run in Mexican groups, such because the Mayos de Navojoa, the Tuzos de Guanajuato and the Leones de Yucatan. At 18 he went to California to affix the Dodgers. He was signed on July 6, 1979 and a 12 months later he joined the principle crew. The bull, as he was nicknamed for his construct and energy, was seen as simply one other rookie till it was his flip to throw the ball. He wore the quantity 34 by crew decree, not by alternative. Forty-three years later, the crew has retired his quantity to honor his legacy this Friday. The Los Angeles Metropolis Council raised the festivities by decreeing that August 11 shall be recognized, any longer, as Fernando Valenzuela Day.

Valenzuela stood out in his first 12 months, though it was within the 1981 season when he shook Main League Baseball (MLB) by successful the World Collection in 1981. His pitches from the mound additionally earned him the Rookie of the 12 months trophy and the award Cy Younger, which is awarded to the very best pitcher of the 12 months. No Mexican or Latin American had achieved it. He had a peculiar technique, the screw ball (corkscrew), which was value it to deceive the rival batter with a slight curve that goes right into a tailspin. That 12 months earned him fame among the many Mexican and Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles, California and, after all, in Mexico. Fernando Valenzuela, with a cap that coated his lengthy hair, was the proper hitch for a rising neighborhood within the US that spoke Spanish and noticed the American dream within the athlete. The quantity 34 and the final identify Valenzuela had been instantly synonymous with success.

Valenzuela, along with being an incredible baseball participant, led the reason for the Latino neighborhood in the USA. In 2015 he turned a US citizen. That very same 12 months, President Barack Obama named him the presidential ambassador for citizenship and naturalization. Valenzuela promoted the rights and duties of authorized residents. The Dodgers, one in every of baseball’s legendary groups, have conferred one of many highest honors that may be given to a participant: the one which the quantity has a face and is the one of many Bull.