The Los Angeles Dodgers announced on Saturday that one of the most legendary pitchers in Dodger history, lefty pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, will have his No. 34 retired this summer during a special three-day celebration. The team officially made the announcement was made during the 2023 FanFest celebration.
Fernandomania weekend will take place August 11-13 when the Dodgers host the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. The festivities will kick off with the Ring of Honor ceremony on Friday Night, a collector’s edition bobblehead on Saturday night and a replica Valenzuela 1981 World Series ring on Sunday. There will be many other fun and exciting elements planned for the entire weekend which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Valenzuela was a member of two World Series championship teams, won the 1981 Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards, was selected to six All-Star teams and even won two Silver Slugger Awards during his 11 years with the Dodgers from 1980-90.
“To be a part of the group that includes so many legends is a great honor,” said Fernando Valenzuela on Saturday. “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’s No. 34 will take its place among those previously displayed on the left field club level — Pee Wee Reese’s No. 1, Tommy Lasorda’s No. 2, Duke Snider’s No. 4, Gil Hodges’s No. 14. Jim Gilliam’s No. 19, Don Sutton’s No. 20, Walter Alston’s No. 24, Sandy Koufax’s No. 32, Roy Campanella’s No. 39, Jackie Robinson’s No. 42, Don Drysdale’s No. 53 and Hall of Fame broadcasters Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin.
“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.”
Valenzuela’s remarkable career placed him among the all-time L.A. Dodger leaders in wins (141, 6th), strikeouts (1,759, 5th), innings (2348.2, 4th), starts (320, 4th), complete games (107, 4th) and shutouts (29, 5th). He is best remembered for bursting onto the scene with a shutout of the Astros on Opening Day 1981. That unexpected outing was made possible when an injured Jerry Reuss couldn’t answer the bell and began a run of eight consecutive victories, including five shutouts and a streak of 35 straight scoreless innings.
That incredible stretch immediately gave rise to the phenomenon known as Fernandomania, when fans would flock to his starts, both at home and on the road. The Mexican left-hander almost single-handedly changed the Dodger fan base in this timeframe and in the coming years, and he would go on to claim the NL Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award and a World Championship in his first full season. He is the only Major Leaguer to ever win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award in the same season.
The lefty, nicknamed “El Toro,” was celebrated for his unorthodox pitching delivery as well as his signature pitch, the screwball, which was taught to him by friend and teammate Bobby Castillo in 1979. Valenzuela would win a career high 21 games in 1986 and throw a no-hitter vs. the Cardinals on June 29, 1990, in which Vin Scully exclaimed after the final out: “If you have a sombrero, throw it to the sky!”
Valenzuela retired in 1997 after 17 big league seasons as the all-time leader in wins (173) and strikeouts (2,074) among Mexican-born Major Leaguers. Following his playing career, Valenzuela rejoined the Dodger organization as a broadcaster in 2003 alongside Jarrin, who first go to know his old broadcasting partner while translating for Valenzuela during the height of Fernandomania in 1981.
“He created more baseball fans, and Dodger fans, than any other player,” said Jarrin, who called Dodger games from 1959-2022. “Thanks to this kid, people fell in love with baseball. Especially within the Mexican community.”
In 2010, Valenzuela was the subject of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary directed by Mexican native and Los Angeles-raised Cruz Angeles, who said this on the eve of the film’s debut:
“For my generation, I’m talking Generation X, the children of Mexican immigrants that grew up in Southern California in the 1980s, he’s not a myth, he was a hero,” Angeles said. “He was the Mexican who made it and was destroying all the competition. All fathers wanted their sons to be the next Fernando Valenzuela, and all of us kids would imitate his delivery, looking up to the sky, hands up in the air high and everything. He was one of us, and we wanted to be like him.”
A native of Etchohuaquila, Sonora, Mexico, Valenzuela has been active in both the Los Angeles and Mexican communities during his post-playing career. 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. More recently, the Mexican Baseball League retired his No. 34 in 2019. Valenzuela has served as a player, coach and general manager for Team Mexico in several international competitions, including the World Baseball Classic.
The left-hander was inducted into the “Legends of Dodger Baseball” in 2019 and became a naturalized citizen of the Unites States in 2015. Last year, he was honored with the “Outstanding Americans by Choice” recognition from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Service.
Valenzuela is married to Linda Valenzuela and lives in Los Angeles. He is very proud of his two sons, two daughters, and seven grandchildren.
(The Los Angeles Dodgers Media Group furnished the information provided in this report.)
4 thoughts on “Dodgers Planning to Retire Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34”
Fernando surely was one of a kind and burst on the scene like no other. He is very worthy of having his Dodger number retired.
Congratulations El Toro!!!
What a great summary of a great career Dennis.
With the Peralta signing, it seems the FO isn’t as worried about a reset of the LT, as we all believed, which is fine by me. I don’t expect the Dodgers to have a $300 million payroll, but It’s nice to see that AF is not letting the LT be the deciding factor in the building of the 2023 Dodgers.
As far as David Peralta goes, the move surprised me, I’ve seen Peralta put up good numbers at times, but not as much lately. I trust that the AF, and his brain trust saw something they liked, or an adjustment they think he can make. Looks like he will be the left handed side of a LF platoon, with somebody, we’ll have to see.
One thing that I love about this move is, I interpret this move to mean AF can spend money at the deadline, if he feels the right move is there, to make the Dodgers a better team. I think in all of the CBT talk about getting under the cap, for a reset, the most frustrating part for me was to think the AF wouldn’t be able to do anything, due to CBT constraints. If The Dodgers don’t make any substantial moves during the season that’s okay, at least I don’t feel that money will be the the deciding factor.