Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Baseball and the Fernandomania of the 80's


After our discussion in class about Latinos in Baseball, I decided to write my second essay on the role of Latinos in modern day baseball. One of my examples was that of Fernando Valenzuela and the Dodgers organization. Although in this clip, they are mainly talking about near the end of his career after his amazing season in '81, the clip sheds some light on the controversial decision by the Dodgers organization in '89 to let him go after they had used him a lot. More than anything this clip shows the sense of betrayal from Latino commentators, after all...if you actually watch the entire show (there are 4 clips), you get a sense that Valenzuela's success was felt throughout a nation. Fernando, pitched his first major league game in '80 when he was only 19 years old. Born and raised in Mexico, people really looked up to him, and during the '82-'83 seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers had the highest attendance because everyone wanted to see the rookie pitch. Yet, as the clip shows, throughout the years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding whether Fernando Valenzuela was over worked. It was because of constant use that his arm finally gives out in '89 and which leads to the Dodgers releasing him that year. Now, my argument here lies in the fact that because Fernando Valenzuela was Latino, he didn't get the same treatment as other pitchers, and although he created what became to be known in Dodgers history as "Fernandomania", Fernando Valenzuela did not get enough votes to earn a spot in the hall of fame.

After their decision in '89, it wasn't until 2003 that the Dodgers offered Valenzuela a permanent job as a Spanish broadcaster. In my opinion the job came very late, as I have a feeling that he deserved a lot more recognition for his extraordinary performance. Valenzuela in a way led the way for other Mexican pitchers who would later enter the game, and he had an nice and clean image in front of his people. Valenzuela is still characterized by his level of humility and down to earth character. Last season, I went to a Dodger game with my dad and as we were walking out, Fernando Valenzuela was also leaving the stadium. My dad was wearing his jersey and Fernando stopped to autograph his jersey. It is nice that after all these years, he still takes time to stay and sign autographs because people still remember his legacy, especially the Latino community

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