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Fernando Valenzuela gets his number 34 retired by Dodgers

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MLB: Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers finally, officially retired the number 34 in honor of Fernando Valenzuela on Friday night, with the franchise icon getting his due on the field at Dodger Stadium once more.

A day before the ceremony, Valenzuela joked his speech would only be one minute. He wasn’t far off, needing only about one minute, 45 seconds to express gratitude for an honor that was a long time coming.

When asked Friday if he was nervous, Valenzuela quipped, “Can’t you hear my voice?”

“It’s very emotional,” Valenzuela said Friday before the ceremony, “I never expected this.”

Dodgers radio broadcaster Charley Steiner emceed the event, and this was the introductory video played by the Dodgers to start things off.

On hand for the ceremony was Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrín and former Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia, who caught 59 percent of Valenzuela’s career innings. Both Jarrín and Scioscia spoke, as did Senator Alex Padilla, and Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten. Sandy Koufax was on the makeshift dais on the infield, as was Pepe Yniquez, Valenzuela’s radio broadcast partner, and Julio Urías.

After Valenzuela’s speech, he and his family walked down the left field line, to get a better view of his number 34 plaque getting unveiled at the base of the club level at Dodger Stadium. Orel Hershiser and Manny Mota, who were inducted into the Legends of Dodger Baseball this season, did the honors of removing the curtain on Valenzuela’s plaque.

Valenzuela threw a ceremonial first pitch to Scioscia to cap the pregame festivities.

“I didn’t think it would honestly ever happen,” Valenzuela’s wife Linda told Cary Osborne at Dodger Insider. “It just feels like the perfect combination of his trajectory, his work, his life after playing with the Dodgers. I was just happy that it’s happening while he’s able to enjoy it and be there. I feel it’s the right thing to do.”

Long before Valenzuela’s number was retired officially, it was kept out of circulation by longtime clubhouse manager Mitch Poole, now the visiting clubhouse manager at Dodger Stadium. Poole told Paul Gutierrez at ESPN, “I take pride in the fact that we didn’t release that number. It’s important to me that the Mexican community got something out of it. And he deserves it. He did so many things that brought attention to the community.”

“Valenzuela showed the world that Mexicans could compete and thrive in the majors” wrote José de Jesus Ortiz at Our Esquina.

More from Scioscia’s speech, from Beth Harris at the Associated Press: “It seems like yesterday when this little pudgy kid who was 20 years old started opening day for us and lights the whole world on fire. What you couldn’t see was the ice water in his veins. He proved how spectacular and magical everything was.”

More on Valenzuela’s day, from Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic.

Also from Juan Toribio at, Valenzuela joked in Spanish before the ceremony about his nervousness, “Honestly? I would rather have the bases loaded with no outs.”