Fernando Valenzuela

Fernando Valenzuela

Infobox MLB retired

name=Fernando Valenzuela
birthdate=birth date and age|1960|11|1
debutdate=September 15
debutteam=Los Angeles Dodgers
finaldate=July 14
finalteam=St. Louis Cardinals
stat1label=Win-Loss record
stat2label=Earned run average
* Los Angeles Dodgers (by|1980-by|1990)
* California Angels (by|1991)
* Baltimore Orioles (by|1993)
* Philadelphia Phillies (by|1994)
* San Diego Padres (by|1995-by|1997)
* St. Louis Cardinals (by|1997)
* 6x All-Star selection (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986)
* World Series champion (1988)
* Gold Glove Award winner (1986)
* 2x Silver Slugger Award winner (1981, 1983)
* 1981 NL Cy Young Award
* 1981 NL Rookie of the Year
* 1981 NL TSN Pitcher of the Year

Fernando Valenzuela Anguamea (born November 1, 1960, Etchohuaquila, Sonora, Mexico) is a former left-handed pitcher who pitched for six different teams during his Major League Baseball career, most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he pitched for eleven seasons, from 1980 to 1990. Thanks in part to his "Ruthian physique," [http://www.losangelesdodgersonline.com/fernandovalenzuela.php] [http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/V/Valenzuela_Fernando.stm] and a devastating screwball that helped him win his first eight straight decisions in Baseball Year|1981, Valenzuela touched off an early 80s craze dubbed "Fernandomania". [http://www.thebaseballpage.com/features/2001/fernandomania.htm] That year, Valenzuela became the only player in Major League history to win both the Rookie of The Year award and the Cy Young Award in the same season.

Early life

Valenzuela, the youngest of twelve children, was born in Etchohuaquila, a small town within the municipality of Navojoa, in the state of Sonora, Mexico. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_bio/ai_2419201244] His birth date is officially listed as November 1, 1960, but during his phenomenal rookie season in 1981 some observers questioned his age, guessing him to be significantly older than twenty. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_bio/ai_2419201244]

Playing career

In Baseball Year|1978, 17-year-old Fernando Valenzuela began his professional baseball career with the Guanajuato Tuzos of the Mexican Central League, posting a 5-6 record with a 2.23 ERA. The following year, the Mexican Central League was absorbed into the expanded Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (Mexican Baseball League), automatically elevating then 18-year-old Valenzuela to the AAA level. Pitching for the Leones de Yucatán (Yucatan Lions) that year, Valenzuela went 10-12 with a 2.49 ERA and 141 strikeouts. [http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Fernando_Valenzuela#The_early_part_of_Valenzuela.27s_career] A number of Major League teams scouted Valenzuela during this time, but it was the Los Angeles Dodgers who finally gambled on the young lefty, buying out his Liga contract on July 6, Baseball Year|1979, for $120,000. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_bio/ai_2419201244]

Los Angeles Dodgers

After acquiring Fernando Valenzuela in the summer of 1979, the Dodgers assigned him to the Lodi Dodgers (now the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes) of the High-A level California League, where he posted a 1-2 record and a 1.13 ERA in limited action. [http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Fernando_Valenzuela#The_early_part_of_Valenzuela.27s_career] In Baseball Year|1980 Valenzuela was promoted to the AA level San Antonio Missions. There Valenzuela led the Texas League with 162 strikeouts, and ranked third in ERA. [http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Fernando_Valenzuela#Fernandomania]

Valenzuela was called up to the Los Angeles Dodger bullpen in September of 1980. In the last month of the season, Valenzuela helped the Dodgers to a Western Division tie with the Houston Astros, pitching 17 2/3 shutout innings of relief over the course of ten games, during which he earned two wins and a save. [http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Fernando_Valenzuela] The Los Angeles Dodgers then lost a one-game playoff - and thus the division championship - to the Astros. His agent, skilled self promoter Antonio De Marco (husband of Rita De Marco (Caprino) of the Caprino Sisters) assisted him in entering the U.S.A., and his lucrative contracts with the Los Angeles Dodgers etc.


Valenzuela's efforts made him the odds-on favorite to be the league's top rookie in Baseball Year|1981, and he didn't disappoint, starting the season 8-0 with five shutouts and an ERA of 0.50. Punctuating this dominance on the mound, Valenzuela had an extremely unusual but flamboyant wind-up (looking skyward just at the apex of every pitch), which drew attention of its own. [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/alex_belth/08/04/five.phenoms/index.html] He became an instant media icon, drawing huge crowds from the Los Angeles Hispanic community every time he pitched and triggering high demand across the country for his rookie baseball cards. The craze surrounding Valenzuela came to be known as "Fernandomania." [http://www.losangelesdodgersonline.com/fernandovalenzuela.php]

Valenzuela was less dominant after the 1981 player strike wiped out the middle third of the season, but the left-hander still finished with a 13-7 record, a 2.48 ERA, and a league-leading 180 strikeouts. That season Fernando Valenzuela became the only pitcher to win Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award honors in the same year. In the post-season, Valenzuela pitched a complete Game 3 of the 1981 World Series against the New York Yankees, helping the Dodgers to their first World Championship since Baseball Year|1965.

In addition to his skills on the mound, Valenzuela also made a name for himself at the plate. During his rookie season, Valenzuela batted .250 and struck out just nine times in 64 at bats. That season, and again in 1983, Valenzuela was the recipient of the National League's Silver Slugger Award for pitchers. In 1990, his last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Fernando hit .304 in 69 at-bats, with one home run, five doubles, and eleven runs batted in. In 936 career at-bats - roughly two full seasons worth of at-bats for a full-time position player - Valenzuela had ten home runs and 84 runs batted in. On at least two occasions with the Dodgers, Valenzuela was called upon to play outfield and first base in marathon extra-inning games in which he did not pitch. [http://www.losangelesdodgersonline.com/fernandovalenzuela.php]

El Toro

Following the outstanding debut, Valenzuela, nicknamed "El Toro" by fans, settled down into a number of years as a workhorse starter and one of the league's best pitchers. He had one of his best seasons in Baseball Year|1986, when he finished 21-11 with a 3.14 ERA and led the league in wins, complete games and innings pitched. He lost a narrow vote for the Cy Young Award to the Astros' Mike Scott.

At the 1986 All-Star Game, Valenzuela made history by striking out five consecutive American League batters, tying a record set by fellow left-handed screwballer Carl Hubbell in the Baseball Year|1934 contest.

In Baseball Year|1987, he began to slump, dropping off to 14-14 with a 3.98 ERA. By Baseball Year|1988, when he won just five games and missed much of the season (ironically, in a year in which the Dodgers won the World Series), it was obvious he had a dead arm.

No longer blessed with his great screwball, he came back in Baseball Year|1989 and went 10-13, improving to 13-13 a year later. He had one last great moment on June 29, Baseball Year|1990, when he threw a 6-0 no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals just hours after the Oakland Athletics' Dave Stewart had thrown one against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Post-Dodgers Career

After pitching ineffectively in spring training in Baseball Year|1991, Valenzuela was released by the Dodgers. An abortive attempt at a comeback with the California Angels failed later that summer. He returned to the Mexican League, where he pitched and played some first base when he wasn't on the mound, before making another brief comeback in Baseball Year|1993 with the Baltimore Orioles.

Jumping between the big leagues and Mexico for the next few seasons, he put together one more solid big-league season in Baseball Year|1996 for the San Diego Padres, going 13-8 with a 3.62 ERA. He retired a year later with a final record of 173-153 and a 3.54 ERA as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals under new manager Tony LaRussa.

The Los Angeles Dodgers invited him to spring training in 1999, but he declined the offer.

On June 29, Baseball Year|2004, Valenzuela announced he would return to the mound in the Liga Mexicana del Pacífico (the Mexican Pacific Coast League) to play for Los Aguilas de Mexicali in October at which time he was nearly 44 years old. He pitched again that Mexican winter league, during the 2005-06 season.


Valenzuela was considered an exceptionally good hitter for a pitcher. His best year at the plate was by|1990, when he hit .304 with five doubles and 11 RBI in 69 at-bats. His career batting average was .200, with 10 homers, 26 doubles, and 84 RBI in 936 at-bats. Valenzuela was even used on a number of occasions as a pinch-hitter, batting .368 (7-for-19) in such situations.

After retirement

In Baseball Year|2003, Valenzuela returned to the Dodgers organization as the Spanish-language radio color commentator for National League West games, joining Jaime Jarrin and Pepe Yniguez in the Spanish-language booth.

Valenzuela also served on the coaching staff of Team Mexico during the 2006 World Baseball Classic.


In 2005, he was named one of three starting pitchers on Major League Baseball's Latino Legends Team.

Dodgers clubhouse manager Mitch Poole has unofficially kept Valenzuela's jersey number 34 out of circulation out of respect for him. [cite web|url=http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/recap;_ylt=AgK6J8ipvlx..jR3bIdxRN6pu7YF?gid=280801119|title=Big Unit beats Dodgers 2-1 in Manny’s LA debut|date=08-02-2008|publisher=Yahoo.com|accessdate=2008-08-02]

In 2008 the band The Baseball Project released "Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails", where they refer Fernando Valenzuela in a song in spanish called "Fernando"


His son, Fernando Jr., played in the San Diego Padres organization as a first baseman. In 2006, Fernando Jr. moved to the Kannapolis Intimidators, a Class A League team in the South Atlantic League affliated with the Chicago White Sox and located in Kannapolis, NC, as a first baseman. In 2008 season, he played first base for the Leones de Yucatan, of the Mexican Baseball League [http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?n=Fernando%20Valenzuela%20Jr.&pos=1B&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=445143] .

ee also

* List of Major League Baseball leaders in career wins
* List of Major League Baseball strikeout champions
* List of Major League Baseball wins champions
* Top 100 strikeout pitchers of all time
* List of Major League Baseball no-hitters


*cite news
last = Click
first = Paul
title = 20 Years Ago, Fernando Valenzuela Was King of the Hill
publisher = Baseball Digest
date = July, 2001
url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FCI/is_7_60/ai_75308168/pg_1
accessdate = 2007-02-15

*cite web
last = Linden
first = Lance
title = Fernandomania, Revisited

*cite web
last = O'Connor
first = Kevin
title = St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture: Fernando Valenzuela

External links

*Fernando Valenzuela at:
**baseballstats |mlb= |espn= |br=v/valenfe01 |fangraphs=1013327 |cube=V/fernando-valenzuela
** [http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=valenfe01 Baseball Almanac]
** [http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/V/Valenzuela_Fernando.stm Baseball Library]
** [http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Fernando_Valenzuela BR Bullpen]
** [http://www.losangelesdodgersonline.com/fernandovalenzuela.php Los Angeles Dodgers Online]
** [http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/historical/individual_stats_player.jsp?c_id=mlb&playerID=123619 MLB.com]
** [http://retrosheet.org/boxesetc/V/Pvalef001.htm Retrosheet]

succession box
title = National League Wins Champion
years = 1986
before = Dwight Gooden
after = Rick Sutcliffe
succession box
before = Rick Reuschel
title = National League Gold Glove Award (P)
years = Baseball Year|1986

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Valenzuela, Fernando — ▪ Mexican baseball player in full  Fernando Valenzuela Anguamea , byname  El Toro (“the Bull”)  born November 1, 1960, Etchohuaquila, Mexico    Mexican professional baseball player whose career spanned 17 seasons in the major leagues of the… …   Universalium

  • Fernando — Infobox Given Name Revised name = Fernando imagesize= caption= pronunciation= gender = Male meaning = courageous, adventurer region = origin = related names = footnotes = Fernando may mean:* An Italian, Portuguese or Spanish given name equivalent …   Wikipedia

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