Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson and the 40 greatest L.A. sports athletes

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
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8.)Fernando Valenzuela

One of the best left-handed pitchers of the 1980s, Fernando Valenzuela did more than just pick up a ball and throw. Through his talents and athletic achievements, he brought a whole new fanbase to the ballpark.

It was during his rookie year in 1981 that Valenzuela inaugurated “Fernandomania”, Valenzuela started the season 8-0 with five shutouts and a 0.50 ERA. Dodger Stadium and the rest of Major League Baseball packed the stadiums for a glimpse at the 20-year-old rookie with the unusual wind-up and deceptive screwball.

Valenzuela won both the NL Rookie of the Year and CY Young award leading the league in strikeouts (180), complete games (11), shutouts (8), and innings pitched (192.1). He also helped the Dodgers win the 1981 World Series.

Valenzuela was an All-Star from 1981-86 and in 1986 led the league with 21 wins, during the 1980’s Valenzuela was second in baseball in strikeouts (1644), fourth in wins (128), and third in innings (2144.2) as the Dodgers pitching ace. Those innings took their toll on Valenzuela’s shoulder and arm troubles mired the end of his Dodgers career he was released in 1991 after 10 seasons with the team.