As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, my heroes were named Koufax, Drysdale, Podres, Wills, Gilliam, Tommy and Willie Davis, Howard, Roseboro and Alston. So many memories of summer are tied to my father, my sisters, my brother and I listening to Vinnie and Jerry broadcast the games.
My love of the Dodgers continued unabated through the '60s and '70s. By 1980, I was married and pursuing a career. Always a true blue Dodger fan, I was nonetheless thrown for a screwball when Fernando first appeared in 1980 and Fernandomania exploded in 1981.
This young man was from the same Mexican state where my father was born. He spoke Spanish as I did. Most important, he was competing in major league baseball and rewriting the record books. I had never noticed my former Dodger heroes' colors or ethnicities. I was suddenly exceedingly conscious of a young superstar who shared a common heritage, ethnicity and language as mine.
Fernando was a cultural phenomenon and Fernandomania was shared by Latinos and non-Latinos alike. No matter how many more Mexicans reach superstar status in the major leagues, Fernando was the first. That he achieved this status in my hometown playing for my home team was stunning.