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November 23, 2010

Fernando Valenzuela...Mexico's Jackie Robinson?

Remember when Major League Baseball retired Jackie Robinson's number league-wide?

Of course you do.

Well, Fernando Valenzuela might soon be getting the Jackie Robinson treatment by the Mexican Pacific League. But first, he'll be getting his number retired by the last team he suited up for...the Mexicali Aguilas.

And it all goes down tonight!

This...according to Baseball Mexico:

The evening, which kicks off the second half of Mexican Pacific League play for the Aguilas and the visiting Culiacan Tomateros, will resemble a typical Inauguration Day event with an opening ceremony involving the Second Region Military unit honoring the Mexican flag, the national anthem played in two parts (once sung with English lyrics and once sung in Spanish), and finally a ceremony honoring the 50-year-old Valenzuela, who will be on hand for the festivities.

After the game there will be fireworks and music. Spectators are being encouraged to dress up in costumes emblematic of the 1910 Revolution and prizes will be awarded to those with the best costumes.

Valenzuela will be the sixth player to have his number retired by Mexicali and will be entering the Latin Baseball Hall of Fame next year.  And while he won't sniff Cooperstown anytime soon...would it be out of the question for the Los Angeles Dodgers to retire his number?

I don't think so.

Sure, Valenzuela made his debut in September 1980, but it was the following season when "Fernandomania" washed over the Majors. It was that year, if you recall, the pitcher became the only player in Major League history to win Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young Award, the Silver Slugger Award and a World Series championship in the same season.

So why not commemorate it with some special 30th anniversary celebration Dodgers?

In short, dude is an icon and warrants inclusion alongside the other ten Dodger greats that have had their number retired.  And, apparently, the team's clubhouse manager Mitch Poole agrees with me...he has unofficially kept Valenzuela's jersey number 34 out of circulation out of respect for the lefty.

1 comment:

Shingo said...

Great writeup. Dodgers should retire Valenzuela's number for the amount of money the organization made from Fernando Mania and especially for how much he meant to the city of Los Angeles, especially the Latin community living there.