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Remembering Fernando Valenzuela’s major league debut

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On September 15, 1980, the legendary Dodgers LHP emerged on the scene

Sports Contributor Archive 2020 Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Tuesday, Sept. 15, was the 40th anniversary of Fernando Valenzuela’s major league debut, a two-inning relief appearance in Atlanta in which he allowed two unearned runs.

Before there was Fernandomania in 1981, there was the 19-year-old Valenzuela allowing no earned runs in 17⅔ relief innings in a fierce pennant race in September 1980. Coupled with his glorious first eight starts in his Cy Young Award-winning rookie season the next year, Valenzuela’s ERA through his first 89⅔ innings was 0.40.

Zero point forty.

Valenzuela remains a beloved figure in Dodgers lore to this day, now on the Spanish-language broadcast team.

“He just kind of paved the way and we have two guys who idolize him in Julio [Urías] and Victor [Gonzalez],” manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday. “He was a trailblazer, a trendsetter, whatever you want to call it. What a great Dodger.”