January 31, 2013 |
Fernandomania was an original. All individual sports manias were borne from the knee of Fernando Valenzuela. Valenzuela, of course, was not just a remarkable sensation for the Dodgers, but a huge favorite back in his native Mexico. He played in the Mexican winter leagues dating to the late '70s. And now he's going to be honored there. On Sunday, Valenzuela will be inducted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Hermosillo, Mexico, at the Universidad Sonora.
August 26, 2012 |
Adrian Gonzalez fell a warning track short of producing his second magical moment in as many days with the Dodgers. With the bases loaded and the Dodgers down by two runs in the eighth inning, Gonzalez hit a towering fly ball that went back, back, back . . . and was caught at the edge of the outfield grass by right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. "It would have been great, absolutely," Gonzalez said. The Dodgers lost to the Miami Marlins on Sunday, 6-2, but Gonzalez looked back at his first two games at Dodger Stadium as a home player with warm feelings.
March 30, 2011 |
As he did 30 years ago, Fernando Valenzuela will take the mound at Dodger Stadium on opening day. From the very place he started a phenomenon that radically altered the country's cultural and sporting landscape, Valenzuela will throw the ceremonial first pitch before the Dodgers face the San Francisco Giants on Thursday. Fernandomania will return to Los Angeles -- but with a notable difference. When he winds up to throw the ball, Valenzuela won't look skyward the way he used to. "I can't do it if I think about it. I would fall down, especially if I'm wearing street shoes," he said, laughing.
March 27, 2011 |
One of the most pivotal at-bats in Dodgers history also ranks among the least known. Had it never happened, Fernando Valenzuela might never have pitched for the Dodgers and Fernandomania might never have gripped the Southland as it did 30 years ago this spring. "It's like a movie script," Mike Brito says. Brito played a starring role in a 1976 drama that unfolded not in Dodger Stadium or any other major league park, but rather on a dusty diamond in East Los Angeles. The batter was Brito, the pitcher Bobby "Babo" Castillo.
February 28, 2011 |
As a kid growing up in Norwalk, Rod Barajas used to look up to the heavens when winding up to pitch, just like his hero did. "I'm Fernando Valenzuela," Barajas would say. His mother would tease him whenever she heard him say that. "No, you're not," she replied. "You're Pedro Guerrero. " Barajas, 6 or 7 years old at the time, would get upset. "I loved Pedro Guerrero too, but I was Fernando," he said. Barajas laughed as he told the story recently in the Dodgers' clubhouse at Camelback Ranch.
October 20, 2010 |
Where were you during "Fernandomania," about 30 years ago? As a 14-year-old, Paul Haddad taped the radio broadcasts and edited them together, turning Vin Scully's calls of that 1981 season into personal keepsakes. It was, for the L.A. boy, a meeting of two masters: the pitching prodigy from a dusty Steinbeckian village in Mexico and the Bronx-born broadcaster at peak form ... baseball's velvet fog. And the ultimate L.A. marriage. "The best part is, at any given moment, I get to relive Scully in some of his finest moments," Haddad, now a freelance documentary producer, says of his collection of tapes.