Fernando Valenzuela

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Fernando Valenzuela Anguamea (Spanish pronunciation: [ferˈnando βalenˈswela]; born November 1, 1960) is a Mexican former left-handed pitcher who pitched for six different teams during his Major League Baseball career, most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he pitched for ten seasons, from 1980 to 1990. Thanks in part to his "Ruthian physique,"[1] a devastating screwball that helped him win his first eight straight decisions in 1981, and a connection with Los Angeles' large Latino community, Valenzuela touched off an early '80s craze dubbed "Fernandomania".[2] That year, Valenzuela became the only player in Major League history to win the Rookie of the Year award, the Cy Young Award, the Silver Slugger Award and a World Series championship in the same season.

Contents

Early life

Valenzuela, the youngest of twelve children, was born in Etchohuaquila, a small town within the municipality of Navojoa, in the state of Sonora, Mexico.[3] His birth date is officially listed as November 1, 1960, but during his phenomenal rookie season in 1981 several commentators questioned his age, guessing him to be significantly older than twenty.[3]

Playing career

In 1978, 17-year-old Fernando Valenzuela began his professional baseball career with the Guanajuato Tuzos of the Mexican Central League, posting a 5-6 record with a 2.23 ERA. The following year, the Mexican Central League was absorbed into the expanded Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (Mexican Baseball League), automatically elevating then 18-year-old Valenzuela to the Triple-A level. Pitching for the Leones de Yucatán (Yucatan Lions) that year, Valenzuela went 10-12 with a 2.49 ERA and 141 strikeouts.[4] A number of Major League teams scouted Valenzuela during this time, but it was the Los Angeles Dodgers who finally gambled on the young lefty, buying out his Liga contract on July 6, 1979, for $120,000.[3]

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