Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Fernandomania" Facts

Dodgers celebrate 30th anniversary of "Fernandomania"

Fernando Valenzuela to make a special appearance this Sunday at Viva Los Dodgers. {linked here}

Valenzuela Bobblehead night is for Tuesday July 26. {linked here}

From the Dodgers -

“Fernandomania” facts:

Since 1945, Valenzuela is the only player in the Major Leagues to win his first eight career starts

In his first 90 innings with the Dodgers from September 1980 through May 14, 1981, Valenzuela posted a 10-0 record and 0.40 ERA

At home, once fans knew Valenzuela’s next start date, the former Stadium Way box office would sell out that game within 24 hours. In 1981, on a game where Valenzuela was not pitching average attendance was 35,000-40,000, while his starts saw an attendance of more than 50,000

On the road, Valenzuela’s starts would also sell out. In anticipation of a May 1981 roadtrip to New York, the Mets built two extra ticket booths near the subway entrances to accommodate the anticipated rush of fans. The crowd of 39,848 was the Mets' largest of the season, they had been averaging 11,358

Also on the road, the Dodgers’ PR department had to set new media guidelines due to the overwhelming media attention Valenzuela garnered. One press conference was scheduled on Valenzuela's first day in each city on the road and another after he pitched

Valenzuela’s starts also affected television ratings. His May 3, 1981 start at Montreal drew a 19.6 Nielsen rating and 59 share in Los Angeles, an estimated 1.2 million adults watching at home. By comparison, the Game 7 Boston-Philadelphia NBA Eastern Conference final that night drew a 3.6 rating and 10 share

Valenzuela remains the only player in baseball history to win both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards in the same season

Valenzuela became the first rookie pitcher to lead the league in strikeouts since Herb Score of the 1955 Cleveland Indians

Early in the 1981 season, reporters called 76-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher Carl Hubbell, the former New York Giants lefty known for his screwball pitch. “The first time I saw Fernando, I knew he was a natural,” Hubbell said. “His delivery is just about perfect.”

In early May 1981, Valenzuela was invited to appear on the national television program “Good Morning America” even though he did not speak English

Exactly two months after his Opening Day (4/9/81) shutout in his first Major League start, Valenzuela traveled to the White House in Washington and attended a luncheon hosted by President Ronald Reagan for Mexico’s President José López Portillo

Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda announced his wife Jo asked for Valenzuela’s autograph, the first time she had ever requested a player’s signature. Lillian Carter, the mother of former President Jimmy Carter, also requested a signed baseball

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