This day in Sports: Fernandomania makes its Broadway debut

Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda checks the grip of pitcher Fernando Valenzuela during a spring training workout in 1983.
(Joe Kennedy / Los Angeles Times)

Fernandomania arrived on Broadway on this date in 1981 when the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela won his seventh game in seven starts, shutting out the New York Mets 1-0 in front of nearly 40,000 fans at Shea Stadium.

It was the screwball-throwing left-hander’s fifth shutout of the young season, and although he had to pitch out of jams in the early innings, he struck out 11, including Dave Kingman three times.

The win vaulted Valenzuela into the major league lead in wins, shutouts, earned-run average (0.29), complete games, innings pitched and strikeouts.

“He keeps going at this damn pace and they are going to have to open up the record books,” Dodgers second baseman Davey Lopes said after the game.

If it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Angels would have continued their six-game trip Friday with the first of three games played against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.

The Dodgers were set to open a three-game series at Dodger Stadium with the San Diego Padres.

Here is a look at memorable games and outstanding sports performances on this date:

The Dodgers’ Justin Turner and his wife Kourtney have delivered more than 500,000 meals to the needy since March. He’ll be a free agent this winter.


1937 — War Admiral, the son of Man o’ War and the betting favorite, wins the Kentucky Derby by 1 3/4 lengths over Pompoon. War Admiral, with Charles Kurtsinger in the saddle, leads from starting gate to finish and goes on to win the Preakness and Belmont stakes, becoming the fourth horse to win the Triple Crown.

1943 — Count Fleet, the fractious and temperamental victor of the Kentucky Derby, wins the Preakness Stakes by eight lengths over Blue Swords at Pimlico Racetrack. The smallish colt ridden by Johnny Longden dominates a field of four horses in the 1 3/16-mile race in 1:57.40.

1954 — Two days after Britain’s Roger Bannister breaks the four-minute mile barrier, world record holder and USC graduate Parry O’Brien, 22, is the first to put the shot more than 60 feet with a 60-5 1/4-inch toss during a USC-UCLA dual meet at the Coliseum. As a senior at USC, O’Brien had won a gold medal at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki and would go on to win another in 1956.

1968 — Jim “Catfish” Hunter, 22, of the Oakland Athletics pitches a perfect game, beating the Minnesota Twins 4-0 at the Oakland Coliseum. It is the first perfect game in the American League regular season in 46 years. Hunter strikes out 11, including Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew three times, and also excels at the plate, going three for four with a double and three RBIs. Don Larsen pitched a perfect game for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series.

1970 — Walt Frazier scores 36 points, making all 12 of his free-throw attempts, to lead the New York Knicks to a 113-99 Game 7 victory over the Lakers and their first NBA championship at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Knicks are inspired by center Willis Reed, who misses Game 6 because of a severe leg injury suffered in Game 5. His presence on the court is the difference in the game.

1984 — On the day the Olympic torch relay begins, the Soviet Union announces it will boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The Soviet National Olympic Committee Union cites safety concerns for its athletes from protests and physical attacks but it appears the decision is a response to the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow.

2001 — Randy Johnson is the third pitcher, and first left-hander, to strike out 20 batters in nine innings. Johnson fans Cincinnati’s Juan Castro to end the top of the ninth, then turns over a 1-1 tie to the Arizona bullpen. The Reds take the lead in the 11th inning but the Diamondbacks come back to win 4-3.

2003 — The Minnesota Wild rallies from two goals down to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 in the semifinals of the Western Conference playoffs. The win completes Minnesota’s second comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs. The Wild trailed the Colorado Avalanche in the first-round series but stormed back to win the final three games.

2012 — Josh Hamilton hits four home runs, swatting a quartet of two-run drives against three Baltimore pitchers that carry the Texas Rangers to a 10-3 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards. Hamilton connects off Jake Arrieta in the first and third innings, adds another in the seventh off Zach Phillips, and tops the evening with his fourth home run in the eighth off Darren O’Day.

2014 — The Houston Texans take South Carolina junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as the first pick in the NFL draft. The draft’s other big name, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, waits until Cleveland makes its third trade and picks the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner at No. 22. Jacksonville, with the No. 3 pick, passes on Manziel and choses quarterback Blake Bortles from Central Florida.

Sources: The Times, Associated Press