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St. Louis Cardinals new pitcher
SLP970620004 - 20 JUNE 1997 - ST.LOUIS, MISSOURI, USA: St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Fernando Valenzuela looks at the home crowd while sitting in the dougout for the first time, prior to a game with the Cincinnati Reds, June 20. Valenzuela was aquired by the Cardinals from the San Diego Padres in a six man trade, June 13. UPI Bill Greenblatt
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Fernando Valenzuela Anguamea (born November 1, 1960 Etchohuaquila, Sonora, Mexico) is a 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 eleven seasons, from 1980 to 1990. Thanks in part to his "Ruthian physique," and a devastating screwball that helped him win his first eight straight decisions in 1981, Valenzuela touched off an early 80s craze dubbed "Fernandomania". That year, Valenzuela became the only player in Major League history to win both the Rookie of The Year award and the Cy Young Award in the same season.

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

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 Yucat√°n (Yucatan Lions) that year, Valenzuela went 10-12 with a 2.49 ERA and 141 strikeouts. 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.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Fernando Valenzuela."
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