LA names day after Fernando Valenzuela – NBC Los Angeles

on Aug12
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As part of the Dodgers’ weekend celebration to honor legendary left-hander Fernando Valenzuela and retire his No. 34, the Los Angeles City Council on Friday proclaimed Aug. 11, 2023, as “Fernando Valenzuela Day.”

Dodger fans from all across the city — including city staff and workers — filled the Council Chambers to see the beloved Mexican pitcher and participate in his recognition. The council recently approved a resolution to recognize the 62-year-old Valenzuela, and waited until Friday to host a presentation to coincide with the start of “Fernandomania.”

Councilwoman Euinsses Hernandez led the presentation and said this weekend “Angelenos across the city will be celebrating Fernando and his incredible legacy.”

Valenzuela — wearing a blue suit, the signature color of the Dodgers — walked up to the podium alongside the councilwoman and shared a few words first in English and then in Spanish.

“Thank you for this invitation. I don’t have many words to say. I played 11 years here and then after I continued to work but with another department,” Valenzuela said. “Thank you to the team for giving the opportunity to be in this beautiful city.”

He kept his remarks short, but emphasized his love for the Dodgers, the fans and the city, which he calls home.

Hernandez shared more of his history, including how he came from Sonora, Mexico, where learned the game of baseball.

The Dodgers scouted Valenzuela and he joined the team in 1979. He made his major league debut the following year as a relief pitcher, and quickly became a household name.

Dodgers legend Fernando Valenzuela receives a plaque commemorating Aug. 23, 2023 as his day in Los Angeles.

In 1981, as a starting pitcher for the Dodgers, Valenzuela became the only player in Major League history to win Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same season when he was 20.

He also became a six-time National League All Star. During his last season, in 1990, he pitched a no-hitter.

“Throughout his tenure, Fernando became a global sensation and an inspiration to communities from L.A. to Mexico,” Hernandez said.

The councilwoman noted that people liked the Dodgers, but when Valenzuela joined the team, people began to “really love the Dodgers”

“The Mexican community was introduced to baseball in a different way, in a different capacity, because they saw themselves in you,” Hernandez said. “I know that right now, when Dodger games are happening, and there’s endless traffic and see that a majority of fans are Latinos there — it’s because of you. You set his legacy.”

“You are loved and welcomed, and I’m so glad that they’re celebrating you and your legacy here right now,” she added.

Councilwoman Imelda Padilla echoed Hernandez sentiments and thanked Valenzuela for “building that bridge between the Mexican community and the Mexican-American community that was going to come and be the fan base of what it is today.”

Later Friday night, the Dodgers will retire the No. 34 worn by Valenzuela. Sen. Alex Padilla, retired Dodger broadcaster Jaime Jarrín and Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten are set to join Valenzuela in speaking at
the 6:20 p.m. ceremony that will be televised by SportsNet LA before Friday’s 7:10 p.m. game against the Colorado Rockies.

A drone show celebrating Valenzuela’s career will follow Friday’s game.

The celebration of Valenzuela’s career will continue Saturday when the first 40,000 ticketed fans received a bobblehead of Valenzuela’s career and Sunday when the team will give out replicas of Valenzuela’s 1981 World Series ring.

Councilman John Lee said the retiring of Valenzuela’s number is “something long overdue.”

“You are someone who carried those teams for us,” Lee said. “I just want to thank you for those incredible memories, for all Angelenos. But not only that, for everything you’ve done since.”

Cameras flashed, attendees cheered and with that the ceremony ended — with Hernandez reminding Valenzuela: “You are loved.”

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