Four decades after his 1981 debut with the Dodgers, Fernandomania lives on. From his perch in the Dodgers broadcast booth, the kid from Etchohuaquila remains a global baseball ambassador and a hero to multiple generations of Angelenos, whose Dodgers fandom can be traced to Valenzuela’s magical rookie season.
When Valenzuela took the mound in Game 3 of the 1981 World Series, the New York Yankees had a commanding 2-0 lead over the Dodgers and Tommy Lasorda’s crew was facing the real possibility of a third World Series loss in five years to their East Coast rivals. In the end, the Dodgers won the game, 5-4, largely due to the gritty performance of their rookie left-hander. Valenzuela gave up nine hits and seven walks in a 146-pitch complete-game, spurring the team to a World Series victory and cementing his pitching legacy in Los Angeles.