Dodgers pays tribute to Fernando Valenzuela and will retire the mythical number 34

▲ Fernando Valenzuela during the opening game of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals on October 9, 1985, in Los Angeles.Ap’s photo

Juan Manuel Vazquez

Newspaper La Jornada
Sunday February 5, 2023, p. a10

No Mexican baseball player has caused a euphoria like the one unleashed by Fernando Tour Valenzuela in his best years in the Major Leagues. From the hill of the Los Angeles Dodgers, that serious and robust young man from Sonora, who smoothed his locks under his blue cap before throwing his ringlets, acquired the dimension of a celebrity at the beginning of the 80s of the last century. A fashion that generated publicity, marketing articles and even television imitations, all for a player whose trademark was silence and the fireballs that were born in the left foot.

The number 34 that Valenzuela wore was mythical and finally received recognition from the Dodgers yesterday by announcing that they will withdraw it as a tribute at a large party to be held from August 11 to 13. A decision that was not easy. The Los Angeles team only removes the numbers of players who have been elected to the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, something Valenzuela does not enjoy.

In an interview he conducted The Conference with the Tour In November 2020, on the occasion of his candidacy – later confirmed – for the National Sports Award that year, he briefly addressed the issue of his Dodgers number.

No one has used it after me on the team Valenzuela said at that time; For Dodgers there is a policy: enter the Hall of Fame for that tribute to be done. It’s been many years to be eligible and yet they haven’t voted for me. That is not important, not as much as being remembered by people, because there I do have an award that few of us enjoy..

Fernando is usually of few words. Friendly, but without abounding when it comes to telling his life in the diamond. However, he does not skimp on expressions to thank for the years he has lived in the Major Leagues, especially for the emotion that people’s affection produces in him, even – he said – for those who were not fortunate enough to see him pitch.

It’s been over 40 years since I debuted and almost 30 since I left. Nothing compares to being remembered, that feeling of truth that is appreciatedhe commented in that talk.

If with what I did I helped other Mexicans to arrive, then I am proud to have contributedadded Valenzuela; What I always tell young players is to be patient and don’t get desperate to play. The Major Leagues have changed a lot since then and they have realized that there is talent in Mexico, which is why they offer opportunities. There are the results with young people like Julio Urías, also in Dodgers.

Therefore, if the number 34 of the Los Angeles ninth was not retired, that did not seem so relevant to him, for the Tour the most valuable are the memories lived and the affection of the people in Mexico and the United States.

I spent just over 10 years with the Dodgers and of those I keep in my memory the 1981 season, when we won the World Serieshe remembered.

That year is an epiphany for Valenzuela and for Mexican baseball. The pitcher born in Etchohuaquila, Navojoa, in Sonora, had just signed with the Dodgers in 1979. But in the 1981 season he emerged as the key pitcher to reach the World Series and beat the bitter rival New York Yankees in six games.

He Tour he won his first eight games that season and also got eight shutouts. That earned him the National League Cy Young and the Rookie of the Year award.

That championship was very nicewhispered Valenzuela; It is also important to be an example for children and that they discover that baseball is a very generous sport..

A decade with the Dodgers that inspired multitudes of young people, especially Mexicans, to become fond of baseball and love the Los Angeles ninth. Valenzuela left the team in 1990, right around the season he pitched a no-hitter against the Cardinals. A curiosity, because it was right with St. Louis where he played his last season in the Major Leagues in 1997.

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