Friday, April 9, 2021

Forty years later, Fernando Valenzuela still a Mexican American icon


It is baseball season and spring 2021 feels a bit more normal in a pandemic

Gustavo Arellano for the Los Angeles Times writes of Fernando Valenzuela, the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who stormed into the Major League Baseball world in 1981.  Born in Mexico, Valenzuela had a storybook year.

On Opening Day in 1981, Valenzuela pitched a 6-0 shut out against the Houston Astros.  He started the season 8–0 with five shutouts and an ERA of 0.50. Valenzuela's pitching motion—including a glance skyward at the apex of each wind-up—drew attention as well.  An instant star, Valenzuela drew large crowds every time he pitched. Some commentators called the craze  "Fernandomania."  Valenzuela became the first player to win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards in the same year. He also was the first rookie to lead the National League in strikeouts. The Dodgers won the World Series that year.

Arellano writes that, years later, legendary Dodger announcer Vin Scully described the frenzy of Fernandomania as a “religious experience.” 

The Los Angeles Times invited subscribers to the exclusive premiere of the first installment of “Fernandomania @ 40,” the Times’ documentary series that examines  Valenzuela’s impact on the Dodgers, Major League Baseball and the Latino community in Los Angeles.
Valenzuela is beginning his fourth season calling games on SportsNet LA in Spanish and his 16th season as a Dodger broadcaster.
In 2015, Valenzuela became a U.S. citizen. He is a previous ImmigrtaionProf Immigrant of the Day.

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