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Dodgers to Retire Fernando Valenzuela's No. 34

One of the best pitchers in Los Angeles Dodgers history will finally have his jersey retired.

During their annual Fan Fest at Dodger Stadium on Saturday morning, the team announced that they will retire Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34 jersey later this summer during a special three-day celebration.

The celebration, which is being called the second coming of “Fernandomania,” will occur August 11-13 when the Dodgers host the Colorado Rockies for a three-game weekend series at the Ravine.

Valenzuela’s No. 34 jersey will be inducted into the Ring of Honor at Dodger Stadium on Friday night during a pregame ceremony. On Saturday night, fans in attendance will receive a collector’s edition Fernando Valenzuela bobblehead, and a replica 1981 World Series ring on Sunday.

Valenzuela is a two-time World Series winner with the Dodgers. He won his first ring in 1981, the same season he won the National League Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards. Valenzuela also received a World Series ring in 1988, but was injured for most of the season. In total, Valenzuela was a six-time All-Star in his 11 seasons with the Dodgers from 1980-90.

Fans had been clamoring for Valenzuela to have his jersey retired with the Dodgers for many years. Not just for his performance on the field, but for his impact off of it within the Latino community. The Dodgers had established a longtime precedent that only players who were in the National Baseball Hall of Fame would be eligible to have their jersey retired. The team will make an exception now for Valenzuela.

Valenzuela will join Pee Wee Reese (#1), Tommy Lasorda (#2), Duke Snider (#4), Gil Hodges (#14). Jim Gilliam (#19), Don Sutton (#20), Walter Alston (#24), Sandy Koufax (#32), Roy Campanella (#39), Jackie Robinson (#42), Don Drysdale (#53) and Hall of Fame broadcasters Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín as the other members inducted into the Dodgers Ring of Honor.

“To be a part of the group that includes so many legends is a great honor,” said Fernando Valenzuela. “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 for all the fans and all the people who have followed my career. They’re going to be very excited to know that my No. 34 is being retired.”

Valenzuela was born in Etchohuaquila, Sonora, Mexico in 1960. Nicknamed “El Toro,” Valenzuela was known for his unorthodox pitching delivery and his trademark screwball.

Valenzuela burst onto the baseball scene like a lighting bolt in 1981. He became the Opening Day starter after an injury to Jerry Reuss, and began his best season by shutting out the Houston Astros.

He would go on to win his next eight starts, including five shutouts and 35 straight scoreless innings. This period in Dodgers’ history became known as “Fernandomania,” as fans would flock to Dodger Stadium to see the Mexican left-hander take the mound.

During his career with the Dodgers he finished sixth in wins with 141, fifth in strikeouts with 1,759 and shutouts with 29. He finished fourth all-time in franchise history in innings (2348.2), starts (320), and complete games (107). But he will forever be remembered for changing the landscape of Dodgers fans overall, incorporating more hispanic and latino fans that have been a vital part of the team’s fanbase in the decades since.

“He created more baseball fans, and Dodger fans, than any other player,” said newly retired Dodgers’ broadcaster Jamie Jarrín, who called games from 1959-2022. “Thanks to this kid, people fell in love with baseball. Especially within the Mexican community.”  

Currently an analyst for the Dodgers Spanish-language broadcasts, Valenzuela has remained in Los Angeles and become a staple in the Mexican Community here. He was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame on August 23, 2003, in a pregame on the field ceremony at Dodger Stadium, and in 2013 he was enshrined into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mexico’s National Baseball League retired his No. 34 jersey in 2019, and Valenzuela served as a player, coach, and general manager for the national team in several international competitions, including the World Baseball Classic.

“I am incredibly happy that number 34 for the Los Angeles Dodgers will be retired forever,” said Stan Kasten, Dodger President & CEO. “The one question that I continuously get asked, more than anything else, is about retiring Fernando Valenzuela’s number. The citywide call by our fans to honor him is truly remarkable. What he accomplished during his playing career, not only on the field but in the community, is extraordinary. 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 then the one Fernando has had.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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