The Dodgers have not issued jersey No. 34 since Fernando Valenzuela retired two decades ago. They have not retired his number, either.
The Dodgers’ standard for retiring a number has been simple and unsparing. Your number can be retired only if you are in the Hall of Fame, with one exception, the late Jim Gilliam.
That has left the Dodgers in the position of having an unofficially retired number. On Friday, they unveiled a more elegant solution: Valenzuela, Steve Garvey and Don Newcombe were announced as the inaugural class of “Legends of Dodger Baseball.”
The three might not get plaques in the Hall of Fame, but they will get plaques at Dodger Stadium, and an induction ceremony next year.
Dodgers president Stan Kasten hinted in a statement that a team museum would be coming soon — or, as he put it, “the creation of a permanent home to celebrate the great players, personnel and moments that have helped make the Dodgers one of the most storied institutions in professional sports.”
Kasten said the Legends program and the potential museum were among “many new developments that we plan to roll out as we approach the 2020 All-Star Game.”
Valenzuela, 57, sparked “Fernandomania” in 1981, opening his rookie season with 35 consecutive scoreless innings and closing it as part of a World Series championship team. He won the 1981 rookie of the year and the 1981 Cy Young award, and he made six All-Star teams.
Garvey, 69, was a batboy for the Dodgers during spring training in Florida. He was the 1974 National League most valuable player, he also played on the 1981 championship team, and he made eight All-Star teams.
Newcombe, 92, teamed with Jackie Robinson on the only Brooklyn Dodgers team to win a World Series championship, in 1955. Newcombe was the 1949 rookie of the year, the 1956 MVP and Cy Young Award winner, and he made four All-Star teams.