Fernando Nation (2010) Movie Script

[man 1]
Fernando was the most amazing thing
especially from a Los Angeles perspective.
[man 2] Well, first of all, he was
really good. Everybody can see that.
But I think there's something else.
I hate to say a rags-to-riches story,
but that's kind of, like, what it is.
This kid was an obscure kid
from an obscure place,
a name that they couldn't even pronounce,
and yet you had this amazing talent.
[man 1]
The world was just twirling on his finger,
and, you know, he was nobody from nowhere.
[man 3]
It didn't seem real, what he was doing.
It was the sort of thing
you'd see in a movie and go,
[scoffs] "Come on, that's a movie."
[Vin Scully]
It really is too good to be true.
A full house came to see him,
and he has not disappointed us all.
A 1-1 screwball. It's swung on and missed.
[man 1]
The Fernando story, it's almost mythical.
When he was called up,
all we knew about him was, he was this
19-year-old pudgy kid from Mexico.
[man 4] He didn't speak English,
and it was driving everybody crazy,
because you wondered,
"What is going through this kid's head?"
[speaking Spanish]
He said he's very, very content,
he's very happy to be with the Dodgers.
He said he loved the Dodgers very much.
He can't wait till he gets out.
And he loves beautiful Dodger stadium.
He thinks the Dodgers are the greatest
organization in baseball.
-[reporters laughing]
-He said he loves to play for Tom Lasorda.
He said Tom Lasorda is the finest manager
he's ever played--
-[cheers and applause]
[man speaking Spanish]
[in Spanish]
[indistinct cheering]
[man 1] The 2 and 2.
[man 2] He's got the call.
He's two outs away from a no-hitter.
And Coleman doesn't like it.
[man 3] And down he goes here.
So, Valenzuela has made
Winfield and Jackson look about as bad
as you'll ever see Dave and Reggie look
back to back.
Valenzuela delivers.
Screwball got him swinging.
What a way to start.
Fernando Valenzuela in his first
big-league start pitches a shutout.
[switches click]
AIRPOR [wind whistling]
[Fernando speaking Spanish]
[in English] In the old days,
the dugout was a little bit smaller.
When I was pitching and I resting over
here, I tried to sit more on this side,
away a little bit
from all the action over there,
thinking more of what I'm going to do
in the next inning.
You know, how I going to pitch
to the hitters I'm going to face.
Sometimes, they have fans over here.
They crowd to see the players.
But we keep going,
focus what we're going to do it.
And that's the bullpen, when, you know,
all the pitchers get ready for the game.
It looks beautiful from here,
but I'm not coming
many times over here to the top.
I'm a little afraid from the heights.
[man speaking Spanish]
[man 2 in Spanish]
[woman] Where Dodger Stadium sits now
is Chavez Ravine,
and there is a history there
that is very closely tied
to the Latino community, Mexican-American
community in Los Angeles.
It was a very close-knit community.
It started, like, around 1910, 1920.
[Estela] Those hills were dotted with
the homes of Mexican-American families.
You know, generations
had lived in those homes.
[Luis] Mexicans were not allowed
to live in certain places.
We were allowed to live in South central,
east LA, Pacoima, a few barrios,
and Chavez Ravine.
After World War II,
there was going to be a housing project,
And these residents
were given vouchers and said,
"When it's all ready to go, then
you'll have first dibs on coming back."
[Estela] Many of them went willingly,
but some remained.
And eventually,
because of political controversies,
that housing project was never built.
[Mark] Frank Wilkinson, who was head
of the housing authority at the time,
was accused of being a communist,
and so that took care
of that project right there.
We've got to clean up communists and
traitors, not dead ones but alive ones.
[Mark] All of this was going on
years before the Dodgers came.
[man] Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn
Dodgers, could hold only 36,000 fans.
City officials hedged about
building a new stadium.
[Mark] Walter O'Malley
wanted to build his own ballpark.
Robinson gets the first hit on 4...
[Mark] When the Dodgers would play
the Yankees in the World Series,
the Yankees would get crowds
of 70,000 plus.
And then you go back to Ebbets Field,
and you try to squeeze 32,000 people in.
Walter O'Malley was a businessperson first
and a baseball person second.
He saw an opportunity to make
much more money in Los Angeles.
[Mark] Walter O'Malley took a helicopter
ride over the Chavez Ravine area.
He saw 300 acres centrally located.
He wanted to build his own ballpark.
[Gerardo] When the Dodgers finally came,
the city used eminent domain
to evict the remaining residents
and had to remove people.
Many of them were removed by force.
[woman] They have to kick us out.
We're not moving out.
We haven't got any money, no place to go.
[Dolores] I was working in the community
service organization office here in LA,
and I got a call from one of the women
who had been injured,
actually, by one of the sheriffs.
So, I drove up to Chavez Ravine
and picked her up,
and she was sitting there, desolate,
and everything around her
was just in ruins. So sad.
[man] And some fought with guns.
Some stayed until the bulldozers came
and ran over houses.
It was a real battle to destroy
the neighborhood to build Dodger stadium.
Everybody's all excited
about this Chavez Ravine matter
for the baseball park.
Actually, when we brought the Dodgers
to Los Angeles,
we had in mind that we would build
a very modern and wonderful baseball park
at Chavez Ravine.
[Luis] When the Dodgers' Stadium
as finally created in 1962,
Mexicans for the most part wouldn't go.
They wouldn't go to the games.
They had the stain of, you know,
"Remember Chavez Ravine."
[Stan] There had never been a sense that
the Dodger fans represented Los Angeles.
It was primarily White men.
They would have these things
called "businessmen specials."
And I always felt like that was what
the Dodgers were, a businessmen's team.
I always had a bad feeling about baseball.
It always brought me thinking that
it is a White person's game,
which is not necessarily true,
but that's what I thought.
And they started a little league in
south San Gabriel, where we were living,
and they didn't like Mexicans very much.
I remember one time I made the mistake
of crossing the baseball field,
and they were chasing me with bats
and sticks and whatever they had,
just to clear up all the Mexicans
from the area.
It was a time of a lot of turmoil,
in the late '50s, early '60s.
I co-founded the United Farm Workers
with Cesar Chavez,
and conducted the great boycotts that
we had to get major legislation passed,
because at that time,
the doors were pretty much shut.
The farm workers movement In the '60s
inspired the Chicano Movement
in the cities
with the students, then had their walkouts
because they wanted to improve
the curriculums.
They wanted to get more respect
In terms of the school systems.
[Luis] We were really relegated
to a marginalized position
as far as Mexicans go.
No history books, no TV shows,
nothing that could, you know,
show that we were there.
And we were the Chicano Movement,
that was the Mexican-Americans born here
in the United States.
That was all about
speaking up for ourselves because
nobody took us seriously at the time.
We have such troubles...
projecting to the majority society,
through the press,
because, you know, they don't understand.
Chicano things don't seem to be news.
[indistinct Spanish song playing]
We had a peaceful,
organized demonstration.
We had notified the sheriffs beforehand of
how we had the demonstration arranged.
I looked up,
and all of a sudden, you know,
there was a whole line of gestapo-like,
helmeted people wielding their clubs.
And there was a panic.
-[siren wailing]
-[shots firing]
[Dolores] It was a movement
that was-- that was blossoming.
Of course, when the Chicano Moratorium
happened in Los Angeles
and people were killed,
then that put a real big damper
on the movement.
People were a little hesitant.
"Okay, which way-- Which way do we go now?
You know, "What do we do now?"
[Samuel] Walter O'Malley was fully aware
of the Spanish-language population
in southern California.
[Mark] He knew, with the demographics,
that if they could just find one gem
from Mexico,
they could tap into that entire market.
[Al] Mr. Walter O'Malley, he would say,
"Al, do you think it's possible
that we might get a good Mexican player?
There are a lot of
Hispanic-speaking people here,
and it would be a help to have somebody
of their own playing on our ball club."
[Bobby] Walter did in fact say,
"With Branch Rickey at the helm,
We got Jackie Robinson,
and we broke the color line."
His ideas were always expansive.
And one of his ideas was that
there had to more international expansion.
[in Spanish]
They might have been looking forever,
but Fernando kind of fell on their lap.
[Steve] Mike Brito,
who was the scout for the Dodgers,
went down to the sticks in Mexico.
He was trying to find a shortstop.
And while he was scouting the shortstop,
he notices that this teenager
is striking out everybody on the team.
[Mike] I didn't like the shortstop at all.
He didn't impress me a bit.
But there was a left-hander pitching
that day against the shortstop.
Twice he got bases loaded with no outs,
and twice he struck out the sides.
And a young pitcher that age
showing that kind of a poise,
that's something
that we the scout always notice.
So, I forgot about the shortstop,
and I went right behind home plate
to see this kid pitching.
[Fernando] When I started
playing professional, I was 16.
It was a summer Mexican league.
You know, I think it helped me a lot
when I played with the older brothers.
Made me feel more secure,
More--more comfortable.
I told him, "My name Is Mike Brito.
I'm a scout for Los Angeles Dodgers."
And, like, and he don't care.
I mean... [chuckles]
I said, "Well, who this guy is?
Who he think he is?"
[Fernando in Spanish]
"Do you feel like you're thinking you can
pitch in the big league in the future?"
"Oh, seguro," he says.
"Sure, if they give me the opportunity."
I said,
"You're gonna have the opportunity."
So, I called Al Campanis.
I said, "Hey, Chief,
I think we found the Mexican pitcher
that we need in LA,
maybe another Sandy Koufax."
Mike Brito said, "Al, you got to come down
and watch this kid. He's unbelievable.
He's a great pitcher,
great fielder, great hitter."
And my dad said,
"Well, he can't be that great."
Finally, we offered him 125,000, and
this is something that really happened.
We closed the deal for 125,000.
The next day, he went to sign,
and they said, "No, Al,
we need another 50,000."
And Campanis got real pissed off.
He said, "Mike, I don't want anything
with these guys.
Let's close the book on Valenzuela."
And I said, "Damn, what am I gonna do now?
We're not gonna lose this guy.
You like that guy as much as I like him,"
I told Campanis.
And the chief, he go like this
and said, "You know what, Mike,
yeah, go ahead. Go with this guy.
I'm telling you,
we're gonna close the deal.
But I don't want more boom, boom, boom
after that, okay?"
And the deal was closed.
The New York Yankees offered him 150,000,
but that happened
right after we'd sent the fax.
If we would have taken a few more minutes,
forget it.
[Fernando in Spanish]
Let us begin an era of national renewal.
We have every right to dream
heroic dreams.
Those who say that we are in a time
when there are no heroes,
they just don't know where to look.
[male reporter] Economists will attack
the Reagan strategy.
They said high interest rates
were stifling investment
and creating unemployment.
More people are out of work today than
at any time since the Great Depression,
and it's getting worse.
[Henry] But at the beginning of the '80s,
there was great dissatisfaction with
the government, the economy was tanking.
President Reagan came on the scene
and articulated a new optimism.
It was the time when the Latino population
was reaching about 10 million,
and everybody thought now was the time
where Latinos, Hispanics were going to
be able to make a major impact in America.
Now Chicanos, Cubans, Puerto Ricans,
and other groups
shape a growing Hispanic presence
in the American destiny.
Immigration officials today rounded up
as many as 1,000 alleged illegal aliens.
The aim of the sweep is to remove
illegal immigrants from high-paying jobs
and replace them
with unemployed Americans.
[Gerardo] I remember seeing on main street
a whole line of people
knelt down
with their hands tied up in their backs.
So, I stop, and it's an immigration raid.
It was humiliating to have
all the traffic go by
and see those peoples
with their hands tied.
The anti-Latino sentiments appear because
people think there's too many of us,
that we're coming in here
to take advantage of this country.
It's happening right now again.
[woman] How many of you carry passports?
Everybody carries a license, and they
accept your word that you're a citizen.
But they're not gonna accept hers,
because she's dark.
This was the atmosphere.
This was the situation
when Fernando came in.
[march band playing Star-Spangled Banner]
[Mark] And just imagine Opening Day, 1981.
You have the red, white, and blue bunting,
You have the doves off to the side.
You give the starting assignment
to the ace.
You give that to Sandy Koufax,
Don Drysdale.
It's supposed to be
like a great big picnic.
You have all of that in place,
And then you hear, "And batting ninth,
number 34, Fernando Valenzuela."
[record scratches]
Fernando Valenzuela on the mound.
[Paul] On Opening Day, 1981,
Jerry Reuss was injured
and couldn't answer the bell,
and so, at the last minute,
Tom Lasorda put Fernando in to start.
And there walked a chubby guy,
long hair, Mexican-looking guy
up, just, like, nonchalant,
like, no big deal.
We were used to guys like
Don Drysdale who were 6'5", and ripped,
and looked like they had just walked off
A Mr. Universe competition.
And here was a guy that looked like he had
been in a beer-drinking competition.
[Gerardo] I'm sure there were people
in the stands saying, "Who is this guy?"
But Fernando pitched for Los Angeles
in the pennant race at age 19.
He went 2 and 0, with a 0.00,
ERA in 17 2/3 innings.
[fans cheering]
[commentator] There's a strike.
It's a strike.
That first game,
he was completely unhittable.
[commentator] Strike is called.
A good fastball.
And it wasn't that he had
unbelievable speed,
but there was so much movement
that no one quite knew where
the ball was gonna be and it would drop.
You know, he threw a screwball.
I mean, who threw a screwball other than,
like, Carl Hubbell Decades earlier
or Bugs Bunny?
[commentator] He struck him out.
The Dodgers score one run.
The Dodgers score a second run.
Now it gets interesting. You're thinking,
"The Dodgers, they're looking pretty good.
And this kid, how long can he keep going?"
[commentator] Valenzuela delivers.
Screwball. Got him swinging.
[Mark] So, he threw a whole game,
and he threw a shutout game
against the Astros.
[commentator] What a way to start.
Fernando Valenzuela, in his first
big-league start, pitches a shutout.
And a little child shall lead them.
I almost feel like a million dollar.
I am so happy. I got my cigar in my mouth.
I wave my cigar.
It was just the tip of the iceberg.
It was just a great Opening-Day victory.
And, yeah, they beat the Astros,
but absolutely nobody,
nobody knew what was around the corner.
Fernando got into baseball
not through the back door,
he knocked the front door.
He just opened it wide.
[man] His next few starts are on the road,
so it sort of becomes a road show.
San Francisco, you had to be there.
San Diego,
he's only gonna be there one day.
And because he kept winning
and winning and winning,
you also had this fascination of,
"How long can it go?"
You had a streak.
[Marl] April 22nd,
there was a game against the Astros,
and Fernando didn't just pitch a shutout,
he drove in the only run of the game.
He became
the most exciting pitcher to watch,
not just in Dodger Stadium,
but in baseball.
He just seemed so instinctive and playful,
and you couldn't help but get caught up
in the whole aura about him.
And then he had this
completely unusual windup.
[commentator] Watch his eyes.
Going one-on-one right there.
He took his eyes off the plate and seemed
to look to the heavens for guidance.
It's almost like God sent him here
and he was preordained.
[Mark] Those first four games
not only plant the seeds of Fernando Mania
around the country,
But it also builds anticipation
in Los Angeles.
[man] He's like a God,
because, you know what,
you've never seen a Mexican ballplayer
come out and play
and then pitching like this.
You know,
if it wasn't for Valenzuela right now,
the Dodgers
wouldn't be up there right now.
[Mark] Everybody in Los Angeles
is hyped up, and they're ready.
They all had April 27th
circled on their calendar.
[Estela] That was the moment
that can never be recaptured,
because when he arrived,
it was, like, this explosion.
[reporter] Fernando mania is not only
the biggest story in Los Angeles
but numero uno
in the entire baseball world.
Fernando's fans, some 55,000 strong,
the largest Dodger Stadium crowd
since 1974,
wore buttons in both English and Spanish.
[in Spanish]
[man] Valenzuela's legend
gets bigger with each game.
Valenzuela is great. I love him.
The Dodgers are number one.
All right! Whoo!
We want Valenzuela to keep it up
and keep pitching like he pitch,
and he is the greatest, like Muhammad Ali!
He's the greatest, and I think
everybody here Has Fernando fever.
Come on, Fernando!
Fernando mania was the baseball version
of Beatlemania.
I was 14 years old when I first saw him,
and I couldn't help
but think of Babe Ruth.
They just had so much in common.
It was like I was getting to experience
my own Babe Ruth.
[commentator] What a memorable night, huh?
Just one game, April the 27th,
but what a game to remember.
[Dick] And it was like a fairytale.
And everybody fell in love with him.
[commentator] Valenzuela's pitch.
Fastball got him swinging.
It is incredible. It is fantastic.
Is is Fernando Valenzuela.
He has done something I can't believe
anybody has ever done or ever will do.
Twenty years old.
He made five big league starts.
He has four shutouts, five complete games.
He's allowed one run. Unbelievable.
[reporter] Fernando the pitcher
has become Fernando the conqueror.
He owns Los Angeles.
Ferdinand mania. It's unbelievable.
I have never seen anything like it.
This guy has electrified
the baseball world.
And by May,
he's on the cover of Sports Illustrated,
and the headline is "Unreal."
[man] Farrah Fawcett may be
the queen of the poster business,
but there soon may be a king.
El Toro managed to do something
not even Superman
or Rocky could accomplish
on their first run of poster prints.
The 75,000 is 50,000 larger than Superman
and some 70,000 larger than Rocky.
[Bobby] The Dodgers knew what
they were doing. It was a PR machine.
They had something.
They wanted to sell it.
He obviously was a great product.
Amazing. I mean, if you mention Fernando,
you don't have to say Fernando Valenzuela,
you say Fernando, And they go crazy.
He's a marketing dream.
[in Spanish]
Everywhere he go, he got 10,000, 15,000,
lots of people attending.
Stadiums that it was a long time
without a sell-out were having sellouts.
[commentator] Fernando is indeed
an international star now.
The 20-year-old pitched
north of the border in Montral today.
And he is human now.
He was scored on in the 8th inning.
That is the first run he's given up
after pitching 35 and 2/3
consecutive scoreless innings.
And this is where everybody wa
s sort of doing CSI: Los Angeles.
They were trying to get
all the information that they could
about this guy.
I was the assignment editor
at the ABC affiliate in Los Angeles,
and everyone was trying
to get to his hometown, Etchohuaquila.
So, at the time, the race was on.
And I was the first one with the story.
We had this military escort
to guide us to Etchohuaquila,
Which we could never have found
on our own.
I mean, truly, it was down this dirt road,
left at that dirt road.
We could see it from a distance.
There was, in the middle of this desert,
in the middle of nowhere,
this shack, this hut that
was Fernando's house.
[speaking Spanish]
And I don't think they'd ever seen
camera equipment or anything of the sort.
They were truly curious as to who we were
and what we were doing there.
[man] Fernando's room
was just like he explained it to me,
small with one bed. That's where
he and his five brothers slept.
[Estela] And for us, it was surreal,
to explain to them
what was happening to their son
that he was becoming a national
and international phenomenon.
He pitched his seventh game this season
while, back in Etchohuaquila,
his family listened.
The early innings were nerve-racking.
Finally, the 9th inning, two outs,
Los Angeles ahead to nothing,
Fernando's corkscrew motion, popup.
[man commentating in Spanish on radio]
The perfect season still intact.
Here is this tiny, tiny village in Mexico
going up against Gotham City, in New York,
and he beat them 1-0,
and so five shutouts, seven games.
And this headline says it all.
David versus Goliath. David wins.
[commentator] Carter gets a chance,
And Dawson...
[Paul] It's May 14th at Dodger Stadium.
Fernando is 7 and 0,
and he's leading the game 2-1.
And with two outs in the 9th inning,
Andr Dawson hit a home run
to tie the game.
[commentator] And a screwball
is hit to deep left field.
Back goes Baker, a way back. It's gone,
in the bullpen, and it's all tied up.
It looked like Fernando
may lose his first game of his career.
[commentator] Can you believe this?
In the bottom of the 9th inning,
the first batter up Is Pedro Guerrero.
And when Vin calls it, it's a work of art.
[Vin Scully] One and one to Guerrero.
Ratzer comes back to his hitter.
And there's a drive into deep left field.
Back goes White.
It's gone, Fernando. It's gone.
[fans cheering]
I never heard another home run
where Vin actually dedicates the home run
to the starting pitcher that night.
But that's how we all felt,
like, we want Fernando to go 8 and 0.
He's got to win this.
[Vin Scully] There are no words
to express what's going on here.
The sound of a cheering crowd
tells it all.
The Fernando Valenzuela magic
is alive and well.
Valenzuela has now tied
the Major League record of 8 and 0,
and who's to say when it will end?
Fernando's gonna be our guest...
[Fernando speaking Spanish]
[Estela] There will never be
another Fernando Valenzuela.
Not just statistically.
Not just in terms of the win-loss column.
But the times,
the moment that he came into this city
and into that stadium,
there will never be
another time like that.
And I think he touched people
in their hearts, really, in their hearts.
But he was was also part of them.
[Luis] The Chicano Movement
brought a lot of people to the streets,
and that was part of that.
But here people
were coming out to Dodger Stadium
and there was still a sense of pride.
For us, it was like a Mexican
could be as good as anybody.
[Oscar] We would watch baseball
every weekend.
I remember we couldn't wait
for Fernando to come up and pitch.
His screwball is marvelous,
and he has a good personality.
My parents were born in Mexico
and wanted to live the American dream.
And when Fernando came over here,
we felt like we made it.
[Luis] It just changes the whole
cultural spectrum of who we are,
Just based on one kid, one indigenous,
poor kid from Sonora, Mexico,
who could do this without even
knowing that he was doing this.
It's important because where do you see
yourself in the TV and the movies?
Where do you see yourself In the sports?
I mean, we didn't have anybody to look to
and say, you know, "That's a possibility,"
until Fernando came up.
-There's some good news and bad news.
-[man] Uh-oh.
The bad news is, there may be
a baseball strike tomorrow.
The good news is,
Reggie Jackson just offered
Fernando Valenzuela a job as a gardener.
[audience laughing]
[Mark] The Dodgers were in first place on
June 11th when there was a player strike.
Up until the first week of August,
there was no baseball,
and this was unprecedented, a 50-day
strike in the middle of the summer.
Yeah, I was surprised
it was really gonna last this long.
I think if it doesn't get back
and baseball doesn't start in August,
I think you can just kiss 1981 goodbye.
People were fed up with baseball players
demanding this, demanding that.
[Mark] They not only didn't have baseball,
but they didn't have this rookie
that they had fallen in love with.
And so, when the player strike was settled
and people still wanting to see Fernando,
still see the fairytale,
still see if the story has a happy ending.
That really saved baseball in 1981.
The left-hander from Etchohuaquila,
his sixth shutout of the year,
his 11th victory.
The only man in the Major Leagues
who can say that.
When there isn't a ticket and no TV,
Fernando's people huddle around radios.
They listen for their matador as he slips
the charges of obscurity and poverty.
[in Spanish]
Our communities right now is so up
because of him.
Fernando probably didn't have a clue
of the situation that was going on
in the Latino community,
and the positive, psychological, good role
that he had to play
in the developments of these things.
[man speaking in Spanish]
I felt bad for him sometimes,
because we made him grow up so quick.
By becoming as famous as he was,
he couldn't be that young kid
that he wanted to be.
We couldn't do anything.
We couldn't go down and have breakfast
together. We couldn't sit in the lobby.
He had to go straight from his room,
straight to the ballpark back to his room.
He wanted to come out.
You know, we told him, "You can't.
You don't realize what you are now."
And he had a hard time grasping it.
We were in our motel,
and he tried to sneak out to Wendy's.
Well, he had a hard time
getting back to the hotel.
Fernando came from nowhere
to the top all of a sudden.
You know, I mean, that had to be
a big mind-blower for him also,
Coming from a small town where you know
everybody, where everybody's equal,
and all of a sudden, you come up
and everybody wants a piece of you.
A lot of times, he looked scared.
People would be grabbing onto him.
You know, you couldn't go outside.
You couldn't--
I mean, he couldn't do anything.
[Fernando speaking in Spanish]
So, a lot of times, you know, I stood away
from Fernando when I got off the field.
You know, "Take it easy, Fernie.
Good luck," you know. I'd go out.
I would go nightclubbing and stuff, enjoy
the luxuries of Major League baseball.
[woman] Valenzuela's "Be Smart!
Stay in School!" program
is credited with keeping kids in class
and out of trouble.
He has given them the drive to succeed.
They want to stay in school
and play baseball and be like Fernando.
[Luis] With his being so big,
eventually he probably thought,
"I need to be a good role model.
I might have issues,
I might have problems,
But I can't forget that I'm representative
of something bigger."
[man] Let's give a rousing, warm welcome
to pitcher Fernando Valenzuela!
[kids screeching in excitement]
We didn't have no money
to buy the books, you know.
That part is a reason
that I continue in the school.
That's why, you know, this program is...
one of my favorites.
Fernando has continued to amaze the fans
and even his teammates with his style.
This humble young man seems to be
untouched by the price of glory.
In '81, you just sensed it was their year,
and when they got into the post-season,
amazing things happened.
From the fact that they came back
from every post-season series that year
to the Rick Monday homer against the expos
that put them in the World Series
against the Yankees.
When they got to the World Series,
the Dodgers lost the first two games
to the Yankees.
And it looked like they were gonna lose
their third World Series to the Yankees
in five years.
[commentator] So the Yankees up
two games to nothing.
Game three here tonight.
I hate the Yankees.
I remember vividly
them taking the Dodgers out in '78.
And so when 1981 came around,
I almost couldn't watch.
[commentator] Valenzuela,
back to the plate, with a screw.
He's missing, and Randolph is aboard.
He was not good that game.
He walked a lot of people.
Lasorda stuck with him.
Hit high in the air
to deep left-center field.
Guerrero going back, and out of room.
Got it!
And the Yankees are on top 4 to 3.
Lasorda is gonna take a walk to the mound.
-He's struggling, isn't he?
-Hey, don't worry, Tom.
[speaking Spanish]
So in my best Spanish, I said...
[in Spanish]
[in Spanish]
[in English] "Are you sure?"
I said it in English.
And I thought that was pretty funny.
I know that game was big,
because we two games down,
But when the pitcher's got confidence,
I think anything can happen.
[commentator] Screwball for a strike.
The Dodgers eventually regained the lead.
[commentator] Struck him out.
[man] Fernando staggered
to the finish line. Vin Scully said...
[Vin] This was not the best Fernando game,
it was his finest.
[man] Even though it wasn't a shutout,
he did what he had to do.
And that night, the Dodgers
were suddenly back in the World Series.
That game made the big difference.
After that, we won three straight games.
[indistinct chattering and cheering]
[Mark] When Lasorda
was asked about it afterwards,
"Why did you leave Fernando in there
when he was clearly struggling?"
Lasorda said in the papers, he said,
"This is the year of Fernando."
[man] The reality of Valenzuela is this
ability to throw a baseball In such a way
that the batters very seldom hit it.
The romance of Valenzuela
concerns his mother and his father
and his life in the tiny pueblo in Mexico
where his brothers
taught him the game of baseball.
[in Spanish]
[reporter] Of course one of the topics
of the Reagan-Lpez portillo meeting
was the undocumented migrant problem,
but at their final White House
luncheon today,
one of the guests was Mexico's
most documented migrant.
He is now this country's
most sought-after guest worker.
Fernando comes to us from Mexico,
and he only makes the Major League minimum
of $32,500 a year.
He is happy with his income
and happy to be pitching for the Dodgers.
Happy. What a shame.
Some agent will destroy his peace of mind.
And next year, he will be turned
from the wonder and innocence of youth
into a brow-furrowed,
greedy, mature baseball player.
The club made a lot of money that year.
Between 7,000 and 10,000
additional people n attendance.
And Fernando well understood
that the Dodgers
were making a lot of money because of him.
I said to him, "Look, the only thing
we can do to give you some power
is what players used to do,
and that is withhold their services.
Just not report to spring training.
[reporter] When the Dodger plane
left Los Angeles last week
for spring training in Florida,
Valenzuela chose to remain in Los Angeles
to work out,
mired in a messy contract dispute.
I said, you know,
"You're gonna get a lot of criticism.
There will be a lot of bad stuff
written in the newspapers about you."
But he said, "No, let's do
what we have to do," and so we did.
A lot of people think, um,
think that's a greedy thing to do,
a contract holdout in sports nowadays.
I don't think he was worth the money
he wanted to begin with,
so it's about time he went to work.
[Steve] He was being portrayed
as being somehow greedy.
Somehow, "Hey, you know,
you should know your place."
[reporter] While the New York Yankees
couldn't knock him off the mound last year
those other Yankees, the fFds, just might.
Valenzuela is in the United States
on a very restrictive working visa.
If he doesn't play for
the Dodger organization,
then, of course, as I said earlier,
we would have to ask him to return to his
country, just like we would anybody else.
We have been treated as children
asking for favors.
[speaking Spanish]
"I am only years old, but I am not a boy.
I am a man, and I have the same need
to be considered with dignity and respect
as does every other man."
[Dick] They finally came up with $350,000.
$350,000 was a lot of money,
and it was more than any other one-year
player had ever gotten in baseball.
And the second year came,
and Fernando was still great.
Fernando won 19 games.
And now he was eligible
for salary arbitration.
No player had ever won in salary
arbitration before for more than 800,000.
But we were determined to get $1 million.
[man] How exactly did you come up
With that figure?
What, the million dollars?
That's a nice, round figure.
It doesn't take too much thought.
I had a 10-minute film
about Fernando mania
and we play it in the hearing room.
The final scene in this film
had Al Campanis looking up at the sky,
and he was saying,
"Walter, you always said
it would be wonderful
if we could find a star Latino player.
Well, Walter, you must be smiling down
on us now because..." [mumbling]
"Because we have that player now."
And it was wonderful.
[Fernando] This is my parents' house.
When I started playing baseball,
that's what I wanted to do,
just build a house for them.
And really I was very happy, you know,
to do something for them,
after they--
they did a lot of things for me.
My mom told me
when I was finished at the house,
she told me she was very proud.
She called me mi hijito,
you know, "my little son."
Beside pitching in the World Series,
I think that was the greatest moment
for me.
[commentator] Right here we get
a good shot at the screwball.
Down, down, down.
Winfield chased it right in the dirt.
Fernando never was consumed with
who a guy was or what his record was,
is this guy going to the Hall of Fame.
He knew there was a flaw there
and there was a weakness or something
that, "I'm gonna do that's gonna get them
off balance, and I'm gonna get them out."
[commentator] So Valenzuela has made
Winfield and Jackson
look about as bad as you'll ever see
Dave and Reggie look back to back.
[commentator 2] He's using that screwball
to the left-handed hitters...
A screwball is a ball
that breaks opposite of a curveball.
In where on a curveball, you go to
the arm side of it, and it's easier
because then that's the way your arm
kind of folds into your body,
but you have to actually
turn your hand the opposite way.
So it's a dangerous pitch to throw
if you're not throwing it correctly.
And, uh, Fernando perfected it.
[commentator] Leading by 13 at the break.
In there, strike three,
And he has struck out the side.
So Fernando has struck out
the five he's faced.
[Mike] Fernando never wanted
to come out of there.
A lot of times,
Lasorda want to get him out,
he told Tommy, "Let me one more inning.
One more inning. One more inning."
[reporter] His consecutive start string
of 255 games was broken.
He went on the disabled list
for the first time,
and some felt that all those innings
tossing his specialty pitch,
the screwball, finally took its toll.
[Ray] I'll go out on a limb, and, you know
certain Dodgers have known
to overthrow a lot of pitchers.
And I think that the management
that was there at that time,
without mentioning any names,
overthrew Fernando.
I don't believe that it's because of
the amount of innings he's pitched.
Gibson, Marichell, Drysdale--
They pitched a lot of innings too.
Lasorda was known to stick with his
starting pitchers for better or for worse.
He received some criticism of it later.
But that was the era.
You finished what you started.
Fernando pitched 20 complete games
one season.
The Dodgers won't even--
They're lucky if they even break
double figures in complete games
for the entire staff these days,
or any team.
[Ray] I remember one time,
we were sitting down,
and he reached over,
and he moved the blinds.
And he goes, "Can't you see
what I'm doing?" I said, "What?"
He goes, "I can lift my shoulder up."
That's how bad he got with his arm.
But you never read that.
He never complained.
He went out there and threw as many
pitches as he thought he could throw.
[in Spanish]
[man] Was there anything, they were asked,
they'd especially like to see
in the United States.
[speaking Spanish]
Just their son Fernando.
[in Spanish]
[fans cheering]
-[announcer] Fernando Valenzuela.
-[commentator] Listen to the hand.
[in Spanish]
A no-hitter for Dave Stewart.
[commentator 1] Remember Fernando mania
in the early '80s?
-He was on the Johnny Carson show.
-[commentator 2] Boy, he broke in,
and just took this place by storm.
[commentator 1] The first man ever
to win Rookie of the Year
and Cy Young in the same season,
the strike season, 1981.
They even invited him to be on the
Spanish version of "We are the World."
-[commentator 2] He was the world then.
-He was the world.
[commentator] The 2 and 2.
He's got the call.
He's two outs away from a no-hitter,
and Coleman doesn't like it.
[fans cheering]
There's one. It's a no...hitter!
[in Spanish]
[commentator] His first career no-hitter,
the 19th in Dodger history.
Fernando Valenzuela.
Two no-hitters in one day.
[woman] In baseball,
former Rookie of the Year
and Cy Young award winner
Fernando Valenzuela
has been released by the Dodgers.
[in Spanish]
That's the name of the game.
This is the way it happens.
It happened to Koufax. It happened
to Drysdale. It happened to Babe Ruth.
That day of reckoning eventually comes.
Today it was Fernando's turn.
But this is the end of Fernando Valenzuela
pitching in the Major Leagues?
With the Dodgers.
For Dodger fans, they are our family.
And so when the Dodgers
cut their relationship to Fernando,
that was horrible.
[man] Have people told you
to give up, Fernando?
I've received a lot of phone calls
from the people,
And they ask me to keep going,
And I must-- They still believe in me.
Okay. It sounds like you'd play
for almost nothing now, huh?
If you can get back to the big leagues,
it sounds like you would
almost play for the minimum.
And so it's come to this for Valenzuela,
a season with Los Charros de Jalisco,
in the Mexican league,
where after three starts his ERA ballooned
to a muy grande runs plus per game.
And though he has completed seven
of his last nine starts
and things are getting better,
Still, the overall numbers
don't exactly make too many scouts
want to hop an airplane for Guadalajara.
I want to go on back to the big leagues,
and I think that now Is a good chance.
I read one story in the New York Times
about how Fernando mania is still alive.
The crowd seems to still love you.
It surprised me a little bit,
especially in my first game,
you know, and really, I feel good because
all the people still remember those years.
You can look back at the statistics,
and you can see an 8 and 0 record
and a .4 ERA,
and you can see that
he is still the only guy since 1946
to win his first eight
Major League starts,
and it just doesn't mean anything.
You can't put into words
what that rookie season meant.
And so whether Fernando ever gets
to the Hall of Fame or not,
nobody else can wear Dodger number 34
and think of anybody but Fernando.
[Samuel] He was the symbol of
a Horatio Alger figure of the 19th century
that if you work hard,
you practice the fundamentals,
you too will be a success
in the United States, in America.
He was a Cinderella story,
and we love our Cinderella stories.
We love the underdog,
the come-from-behind horse
or the tiny basketball player
who can dunk,
we love those kinds of stories.
And Fernando gave us a new version
of that story.
-[excited chattering]
-Thank you, thank you.
-Last one.
-[woman] Oh, my gosh.
Gracias. Gracias.
[Ray] He spoke to people all the times.
If you come from a bad neighborhood,
work hard,
stay out of trouble, play baseball,
And then it can happen.
[man] People who normally get forgotten
now think, "I can do it it too."
[Estela] To this day,
when you're in the stands
and they announce
that he's there in the press box,
I have to admit, I get misty-eyed.
[in Spanish]
[Estela] He still matters to me.
And he still matters, I think,
to a generation of Mexican-Americans
for whom he was our first hero.
[Steve] Nobody comes from nowhere.
There's a story behind everybody.
And Fernando's story was one of the best
I've seen in my years of covering sports.
We really haven't had
another Fernando Valenzuela.
We had great players,
a lot of great Latino players coming up,
but you really don't have that phenomenon.
The culture needed a Mexican
indigenous person for that moment.
[Estela] When you think about
the tears and the agony
agony that so many Mexican families
had to go through
to leave that beloved neighborhood,
and now
a Mexican hero comes to the mound
on Chavez Ravine.
There was a sense of history
that, on that same ground where so many
Mexican families lost a dream,
a Mexican came
and placed a stake on a new dream.
[inspirational music playing]