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1986 All-Star Game: Fernando Valenzuela Ties Carl Hubbell

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Fernando Valenzuela tied a 52-year old record in the 1986 All-Star Game, in Houston. (<em>Rick Stewart | Getty Images</em>)
Fernando Valenzuela tied a 52-year old record in the 1986 All-Star Game, in Houston. (Rick Stewart | Getty Images)

So far we have taken nine trips down memory lane, recalling moments from Dodgers All-Star past. Today brings us to what I think is the best Dodgers All-Star moment, which in a way is two moments, but I'll get to that. My top Dodgers All-Star memory is Fernando Valenzuela equaling Carl Hubbell in 1986.

Dodgers All-Star Memories
July 3 Mike Piazza: MVP
July 4 Choi, HR Derby king
July 5 Jeff Shaw's debut
July 6 Don Sutton: 0.00 ERA
July 7 Maury Wills: MVP
July 8 First Integrated ASG
July 9 Steve Garvey : MVP x2
July 10 LA Coliseum hosts
July 11 Dodger Stadium hosts
today Fernando ties Hubbell

Growing up, it was nearly impossible to bring up the All-Star Game without somebody mentioning Hubbell. In 1934, the Giants' screwballing ace fanned five consecutive batters, an All-Star record. Not only that, but they were all Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin struck out in succession. It was a record to marvel, especially given the circumstances, and brought up seemingly every year at or around the All-Star Game.

In 1984, Valenzuela was named to his fourth consecutive All-Star team, and he followed starter Charlie Lea on the mound at Candlestick Park. After pitching into and out of a jam in the third inning, Valenzuela faced three Hall of Famers in the top of the fourth. Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson, and George Brett all struck out against Fernando (Valenzuela did actually face five Hall of Famers in a row, as Rod Carew hit into a double play and Cal Ripken grounded out to end the third, but he didn't strikeout all five, as Hubbell did). Valenzuela was followed on the mound by rookie Dwight Gooden, who at 19 was in the midst of taking baseball by storm. Gooden began his night by striking out Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon, and Alvin Davis, giving Valenzuela and Gooden a joint record of six straight strikeouts. But that wasn't the individual record of Hubbell.

Fast forward to 1986, in the Astrodome, when this time Valenzuela followed Gooden on the mound (Gooden started, and at the All-Star break that season had a 51-17 career record with a 2.17 ERA in 84 starts. He was still 21). Valenzuela's first batter faced was reigning AL MVP Don Mattingly, who struckout swinging. Then, Cal Ripken and Jesse Barfield went down looking to end the fourth inning. To start the fifth, Lou Whitaker went down looking and Teddy Higuera (yes, a pitcher batting in the fifth inning) struck out swinging.

One master of the screwball tied another. Kirby Puckett grounded out to prevent Fernando from having the record all to himself, but Valenzuela would pitch three scoreless innings on this night. You already know about Don Sutton's stellar 0.00 ERA in eight innings of All-Star play; well, Valenzuela is right behind him, with 7 2/3 innings, the fifth most scoreless innings in All-Star history.

Valenzuela would lead the National League with 21 wins in 1986, and led the majors in complete games with 20. Through the first six seasons of his career, 1981 to 1986, Valenzuela threw more innings (1,537) than anyone in baseball, and he made the All-Star team six times. We didn't know it at the time, but 1986 was Valenzuela's final All-Star year, and he made it count.