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March 30, 2011 | By Dylan Hernandez
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 | Jerry Crowe
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 | By Dylan Hernandez
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 | Chris Erskine
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.
April 24, 2010
My town? Stick around Eric Gagne announced his retirement last week, not with a Dodger Stadium farewell ceremony but in an interview with a Quebec website. With Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera in town to play the Angels this weekend, that got us thinking: Who was the last great Dodger to go out as a Dodger? The New York Yankees will make sure Jeter and Rivera go out as Yankees. And what of the Dodgers so cherished by the fans of Los Angeles? Gagne had a bad arm for two years, then left for a better offer in Texas.
September 14, 2009 | Reed Johnson
Today, when Jessica Romero talks about her future, the Wilmington teenager and star of the new feature film "Down for Life" says she wants to become a marine biologist. But not so long ago, Romero wasn't sure whether she'd have any future at all. Like the girl-gang leader she plays in "Down for Life," she was embarked on an unpredictable, sometimes violent existence with no clear path leading out. "I wouldn't think about tomorrow, I would always just think about the moment because tomorrow was never promised to you," Romero said during an interview last week with fellow cast members Andrea Valenzuela and Isamar Guijarro and director Alan Jacobs at Locke High School in South Los Angeles, where some of the film was shot.
September 3, 2009 | Pete Thomas
Hall of Fame jockey Ismael "Milo" Valenzuela, who won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1958 and 1968 and retired with a remarkable 2,545 overall triumphs, died Wednesday at his Arcadia home after a lengthy illness. He was 74. Valenzuela, one of 22 children born to parents who had immigrated to the United States from Mexico, rose to prominence at Southern California racetracks before branching out to become nationally famous. He had a powerful yet smooth style, comparable to that of the legendary Eddie Arcaro, and was known as being especially capable aboard feisty 2-year-olds.
March 15, 2009 | Kevin Baxter
Halfway through the Mexican national team's morning workout Saturday, a man slowly wheeled a cart full of baseballs toward the middle of the infield. Not every team has the luxury of using a 17-year major league veteran and Cy Young Award winner to keep its batting practice pitcher supplied with balls. But in this case, Fernando Valenzuela was only too eager to oblige. "Whatever they need," Valenzuela said. "I'm real, real happy to be part of this."
December 29, 2007 | Larry Stewart, Times Staff Writer
The turbulent career of 45-year-old jockey Patrick Valenzuela took another downward turn Friday when the California Horse Racing Board terminated his conditional riding license after learning of a recent arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. A statement issued by outgoing CHRB Executive Director Ingrid Fermin said that "consuming or being under the influence of alcohol is a violation" of the conditional license. Valenzuela was arrested Dec. 20 at 2:48 a.m.
September 29, 2006 | Robyn Norwood
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela returned from his two-month absence from Southern California racetracks Thursday and won on one of his four mounts at the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita. Glamour Cat, with Valenzuela aboard, won the third race. Richard B. Shapiro, chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, said Valenzuela had satisfied the final request of the board concerning the rider's six-week stay at a facility that treats patients with mental-health and substance-abuse issues.
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