Bill Plaschke: Dodgers are finally retiring Fernando Valenzuela's number

Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

LOS ANGELES — It is more than digits on a uniform, it is a symbol of community, a monument to connection, a deep blue landmark that has long bonded a city and its baseball team.

Thirty-four is the Dodgers' true magic number.

And now, finally, officially, gloriously, it will live forever with Fernando Valenzuela.

In a long-awaited move that will rock Chavez Ravine at its Fernandomania roots, the Dodgers announced Saturday that they are retiring Valenzuela's No. 34.

It is an appropriate honor for arguably the most impactful Dodger in Los Angeles franchise history. It is the fulfillment of the persistent wishes of the passionate fan base that Valenzuela helped create.

It's about damn time.


"The single question I get asked more than any other is, 'When are you going to retire Fernando's number?' " said Stan Kasten, the Dodgers' president and chief executive, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "The answer is, this year."

The stoic Valenzuela was clearly moved by the honor.

"It's an amazing feeling," Valenzuela told The Times. "I never thought it would happen. I thank the fans and the Dodgers for making it happen."

What took so long? Blame it on tradition. Seriously. Even though Valenzuela has been retired for 26 years, he has been prevented from participating in the Dodgers' greatest tradition because of, well, the tradition.


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