Fernando Valenzuela's number retirement celebrated by Jaime Jarrín and Julio Urías
Published in Baseball
LOS ANGELES — Jaime Jarrín summed up the biggest news from the Dodgers FanFest event at Chavez Ravine on Saturday in just one sentence.
“This,” the Dodgers’ recently retired Spanish radio voice said after the team announced it would retire Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34 this coming season, “is something overdue.”
For years, much of the club’s fan base has felt the same.
No, Valenzuela hasn’t been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the traditional prerequisite for the Dodgers to retire a former player’s jersey.
Yet as the seasons went by, and the Mexican pitcher’s enduring legacy with the franchise and in the community ceased to fade, the absence of Valenzuela’s number in Dodger Stadium’s left-field Ring of Honor grew increasingly difficult to justify.
Though the Dodgers hadn’t issued the No. 34 to a player since Valenzuela’s retirement, Jarrín had been among a growing contingent hoping to see it officially retired.
Jarrín called all 11 of Valenzuela’s seasons with the Dodgers, including the legendary 1981 campaign in which the left-hander won the National League rookie of the year and Cy Young awards while helping the team to a World Series title. He often served as Valenzuela’s interpreter in public appearances, including at a 1981 White House luncheon with President Ronald Reagan.
After his playing career, Valenzuela joined Jarrín in the Dodgers radio booth, working alongside him for two decades before Jarrín retired last year.
“I was hoping that they would do it,” said Jarrín, who is now a club ambassador and has his own plaque in the team’s Ring of Honor. “I don’t know why they waited. They could have done it several years ago.”
Now that it is happening — the ceremony is scheduled to take place before an Aug. 11 home game this year — Jarrín couldn’t help but smile Saturday.
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