Fernando Valenzuela Los Angeles Dodgers:
En route to being named TSN Player of the Year in 1981, Fernando Valenzuela , the Mexican star long sought by the
Los Angeles Dodgers, ushered in Fernandomania and turned Dodger Stadium into a Mexican fiesta on the nights he pitched. No one had ever broken in quite like Fernando Valenzuela . He won his first ten major league decisions and was the first rookie to win the Cy Young Award, and his eight shutouts (including five in his first seven starts) tied the rookie record in a season a third shorter than usual due to the players' strike. The secret of this phenomenal success was "Fernando's Fadeaway," a screwball widely regarded as the best since Hubbell's. But he was not intentionally emulating Hubbell or even Christy Mathewson, the master before Hubbell. The youngest of twelve children from a Mexican farm family, Fernando Valenzuela , who spoke through an interpreter his rookie year, had never heard of either of these Hall of Famers. He learned the screwball from former Dodger Bob Castillo and had even learned to throw it at two different speeds. As it turned out, he would evoke further comparisons to Hubbell in 1986 when he tied his record five straight strikeouts in the All-Star Game. All-Star success was not new to him - he had compiled a 0.00 ERA and 9 strikeouts in 7.2 All-Star innings, including 1981, when he became one of a select few rookie pitchers to be an All-Star starter. Although his rookie success continued all the way to the World Series, when he won his start against Dave Righetti in a matchup of rookies, it would not always be so easy. In April 1986, he became the first to win Pitcher of the Month honors despite a losing record when he went 2-3 with a 0.21 ERA en route to setting a new major league record of 44.1 consecutive innings without an earned run at the start of a season. Fernando Valenzuela's Ruthian physique was deceptive, as he was a good all-around athlete. He won a Silver Bat in 1983 and a Gold Glove in 1986, pinch hit on occasion, and even played outfield during a 21-inning game. In 1983 Fernando Valenzuela became the first player awarded $1 million in arbitration.
September 30, 1980: Dodgers rookie Fernando Valenzuela wins his first ML game, beating the Giants, 4-1. Pedro Guerrero has a home run.
April 9, 1981: Pressed into service on Opening Day when scheduled starter Jerry Reuss pulls a calf muscle, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela shuts out the Astros 2-0 on five hits in his first ML start.
April 22, 1981: Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Fernando Valenzuela tosses his 3rd shutout in four starts, strikes out 11, and drives in the game's only run with a single in a 1-0 win over Houston.
May 14, 1981: The largest Dodger Stadium crowd in seven years (53,906) watches Fernando Valenzuela run his record to 8-0 with a 3-2 win over the Expos.
May 18, 1981: Fernando Valenzuela finally loses 4-0 to the Phillies. His ERA "rises" to 0.90.
June 6, 1981: The Cubs score four runs in the 4th inning, three on a pinch home run from Mike Tyson, to knock rookie phenom Fernando Valenzuela out of the game. The Cubs are victorious over the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-5 at Wrigley.
June 11, 1981: In St. Louis, the Cardinals beat Fernando Valenzuela 2-1, but the Los Angeles Dodgers still are a half-game in front of Cincinnati a day before the players' strike begins.
September 6, 1981: The Los Angeles Dodgers Fernando Valenzuela shuts out the Cardinals, 5-0, to tie a record of seven shutouts by a National League rookie. He shares the record with Irv "Cy the Second" Young (1905), Grover Alexander (1911), and Jerry Koosman (1968).
September 17, 1981: Fernando Valenzuela sets the National League rookie record with his 8th shutout of the season, a 2-0 three-hitter versus the Braves. He ties the ML mark of Russ Ford (1910) and Reb Russell (1913).
October 10, 1981: Another series is tied up at 2-2 as Fernando Valenzuela wins over the Astros 2-1.
October 23, 1981: Despite an uncharacteristic poor performance (9 hits, seven walks) Fernando Valenzuela goes the distance in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 5-4 come-from-behind win. The deciding run scores on a double play. Starter Dave Righetti lasts just two innings, walking two and allowing five hits, but reliever George Frazier takes the loss. Ron Cey has a 3-run homer for LA. Starters Valenzuela and Righetti are the first two Rookies of the Year to oppose each other in the World Series since Willie Mays and Gil McDougald in 1951.
November 11, 1981: Fernando Valenzuela becomes the first rookie ever to win a Cy Young Award, edging the Reds Tom Seaver 70-67 for National League honors. He was the first rookie since Herb Score in 1955 to lead his league in strikeouts with 180.
December 2, 1981: Fernando Valenzuela becomes the 3rd consecutive Dodger to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Expos OF Tim Raines, who hit .304 with 71 stolen bases, is 2nd.
March 24, 1982: Fernando Valenzuela ends his holdout and reports to the Los Angeles Dodgers' spring training camp in Vero Beach, Florida. After earning just $42,500 while winning the National League Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year Awards last season, the 21-year-old lefthander had asked for a raise to $1 million in 1982. The Los Angeles Dodgers unilaterally renewed his contract for a reported $350,000 instead.
August 18, 1982: In the completion of a game suspended the previous day after 17 innings, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Cubs 2-1 in 21 innings despite running out of position players and having to use pitchers Fernando Valenzuela and Bob Welch in the outfield. Jerry Reuss pitches the final four innings for the win, then starts the regularly scheduled game and wins again 7-4.
February 19, 1983: Fernando Valenzuela wins his salary arbitration case with the Los Angeles Dodgers and becomes the first player to win a $1 million salary through that process. The Los Angeles Dodgers had offered Valenzuela $750,000 for the 1983 season.
September 30, 1983: The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Giants 4-3 and the Padres beat the Braves 3-2, giving Los Angeles the National League West title. Orel Hershiser pitches the final two innings in relief of Fernando Valenzuela to record his first ML save.
October 5, 1983: Fernando Valenzuela wins the 2nd NLCS game for the Los Angeles Dodgers downing Philley 4-1.
May 16, 1984: Steve Carlton lifts a grand slam off Fernando Valenzuela to lead the Phillies to a 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
May 23, 1984: In a rematch against Steve Carlton, who hit a grand slam off him on May 16th, Fernando Valenzuela strikes out 15 Phillies while pitching the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 3-hit 1-0 victory.
July 10, 1984: On the 50th anniversary of Carl Hubbell's legendary five consecutive strikeouts in the 1934 All-Star Game, National League pitchers Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden combine to fan six batters in a row for a new All-Star Game record in the NL's 3-1 triumph. After Valenzuela whiffs Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson, and George Brett in the 4th inning, Gooden, the youngest All-Star ever at age 19, fans Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon, and Alvin Davis in the 5th.
April 9, 1985: A year and a day after being hit in the face by a Mike Torrez pitch, Astros SS Dickie Thon returns to the Astros lineup and goes 1-for-4 off Fernando Valenzuela in Houston's 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Thon will hit just .207 before going back on the DL with recurring vision problems.
September 22, 1986: Los Angeles Dodgers ace Fernando Valenzuela becomes the National League's first 20-game winner this season, beating the Astros 9-2 on two hits. He's the first Mexican to win 20 games in a season.
November 11, 1986: Houston's Mike Scott (18-10) beats Fernando Valenzuela (21-11) for the National League Cy Young Award, garnering 15 first-place votes to Valenzuela's 9.
June 3, 1989: Houston beats Los Angeles 5-4 in 22 innings in a game that takes 7:14 to complete. Rafael Ramirez's 2nd RBI of the game finally ends it at 2:50 a.m. on the 4th. When the Los Angeles Dodgers use up all 24 players, (except for tomorrow's starter Tim Belcher), 3B Jeff Hamilton becomes the final and losing pitcher and P Fernando Valenzuela finishes the game at 1B. John Shelby goes 0-10 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
June 29, 1990: Oakland's Dave Stewart and the Los Angeles Dodgers Fernando Valenzuela both throw no-hitters today, the first time this has happened since Hippo Vaughan and Fred Toney's double no-hitter in 1917. Stewart blanks the Blue Jays 5-0, and a few hours later Valenzuela beats the Cardinals 6-0. The only threat to Stewart is a fly ball by Fred McGriff that Dave Henderson catches with his back pinned to the wall. Fernando almost loses his no-hitter with one out in the 9th when Pedro Guerrero hits a grounder up the middle with a runner on. Valenzuela, a former Gold Glover deflects the ball to 2B where SS Alfredo Griffin starts a DP.
July 11, 1991: Recently released by the Angels, Fernando Valenzuela signs a minor league contract with them and will report to Midland, Texas.
April 27, 1993: Pirates knuckler Tim Wakefield tosses 172 pitches in defeating Atlanta, 6-2, in 10 innings. It is the most pitches thrown by a pitcher in one game in the 1990s. Fernando Valenzuela, in 1987, was the last to throw that many pitches in a game.
April 29, 1994: Montreal P Kirk Rueter defeats SD by a score of 3-1. In doing so, he becomes the first major league pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 to begin his career by winning his first 10 decisions. The all-time record is 12, held by former Giants hurler, Hooks Wiltse, who did so in 1904, and tied by Butch Metzger (1974-76).
May 13, 1996: Pudgy Fernando Valenzuela gives up five hits over six 2/3 innings, good enough for a 5-2 Padre win. The Pads are led by Brian Johnson's 2-for-3; he has eight hits in his last 12 at bats with eight RBI.
August 9, 1996: Fernando Valenzuela limits Pittsburgh to three hits in seven 2/3 innings and Greg Vaughn hits the 100-RBI mark with a solo homer to lead the Padres to a 4-1 win. Vaughn, who had 95 RBIs with Milwaukee before being traded, is the first player to hit 100 ribbies in a season while playing in both leagues.
June 13, 1997: In a swap of fading former lefty All-Stars, the Padres send Fernando Valenzuela (2-8) to the Cardinals for Danny Jackson in a 6-player trade Friday night. The Padres add IF Scott Livingstone and OF Phil Plantier. San Diego receives P Rich Batchelor and OF-1B Mark Sweeney.
June 29, 1997: Dodger pitcher Pedro Astacio wins for the first time in 11 starts and Eric Karros knocks in four runs as Los Angeles beats the San Diego Padres, 10-4. It is LA's first win in 11 games with the Pads. Danny Jackson loses and is now 0-4 since the Padres acquired him for Fernando Valenzuela.
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