I think I should mention that today marks the thirtieth anniversary of Fernando Valenzuela’s no-hitter against the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on June 29, 1990. That was his final season as a Dodger and the no-hitter was the last hurrah for Fernando in Dodger blue. Not surprisingly everyone could see that the writing was on the wall for the end of his Dodger career. The night was mixed with sadness, nostalgia and great joy. For one last evening at Chavez Ravine, Fernandomania returned, nearly a decade after it had first begun.
The Dodgers would beat the Cardinals that night by a 6-0 score. Earlier that day Dave Stewart had pitched a no-hitter and Fernando commented in the clubhouse that they may see another no-hitter that night. The Dodgers got home runs from Hubie Brooks, and Juan Samuel. The Dodger bats knocked opposing starter Jose Deleon out of the game early. Fernando walked three and struck out seven, and ended the game on a double play.
In the top of the ninth after walking Willie Mcgee with one out, former Dodger Pedro Guerrero hit a grounder up the middle. It looked like it was going straight into center field. However Fernando reached down with his glove hand and just nicked the ball enough to slow it down. Samuel was there to field the ball and start a 1-4-3 double play. I say that because technically the ball just touched Fernando’s mitt.
After the game, Fernando raised his hat to the crowd as Vin Scully made yet another iconic call.
“Fernando Valenzuela has pitched a no-hitter, and if you have a sombrero throw it to the sky!”
At that point in his career, Valenzuela had become an average back-end starter. He was nowhere near the pitcher he was during the beginning of his career, and at the end of the season the Dodgers would release him. But for one night, that magical feeling returned to Dodger Stadium. Fernandomania was alive and well for one more night and how wonderful it was. That wasn’t the end to Fernando’s pitching career. He would go onto pitch another seven years in the majors, retiring in 1997. Every June 29, we tip our hats, sombreros and glasses to Fernando Valenzuela, one of the greatest Dodgers ever.