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» when he wowed the Dodgers at age 20 in 1981 on his way to his only career Cy Young Award, was on hand at Dodger Stadium Saturday during Dodgers Fan Fest, where the announcement 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 that they have given me as a player and working for the Dodgers, this is for them too. I am happy. I am happy for all the fans and all the people who have followed my career. They will be very happy to know my No. 34 is retired.»
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Valenzuela will have his jersey removed on Aug. 11 during the Dodgers’ season. However, «Fernandomania» deserves more than just one night.
Los Angeles will do it all over one weekend, with a collector’s edition bobblehead delivered to fans on August 12 and a replica of the 1981 World Series ring delivered on August 13.
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«What he’s accomplished during his playing career, not only on the field but also in the community, is extraordinary,» Dodgers team president Stan Kasten said. «He really ignited the imagination of baseball fans everywhere. It’s hard to imagine any player having a bigger impact on a fan base than Fernando has.»
Valenzuela played a key role in bringing the Dodgers to 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 with a 2.48 ERA in 25 starts (192.1 innings).
In his 11 years with the Dodgers, Valenzuela posted a 3.31 ERA in 331 games, striking out 1,759 batters in 2,348.2 innings.
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Valenzuela would go on to the then California Angels in 1991, but did not do well in two starts. He played in Mexico in 1992 before returning to MLB the following year with the Baltimore Orioles.
The crafty lefty would play for the Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, and St. Louis Cardinals before retiring after the 1997 season.
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Valenzuela finished his career with six All-Star Game nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards and a Gold Glove Award.