Fernando Valenzuela
Los Angeles Dodgers Broadcaster, Fernando Valenzuela signs autographs for fans during LA's "Viva Los Dodgers" at Dodger Stadium Latin Times

Dodger’s hall of fame pitcher, Fernando Valenzuela was honored over the weekend in Guadalajara, Jalisco. The Charros de Jalisco of the Liga Mexicana del Pacífico, honored the legendary Mexican pitcher with a statue, a jersey retirement ceremony, and the ceremonial first pitch on Friday against the Tomateros of Culiacán.

Valenzuela was born in Etchohuaquila, Mexico and played for the Charros de Jalisco during the twilight of his career. In 2004, at 44 years old, Valenzuela returned to the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico with the Los Águilas de Mexicali and pitched for them the following year as well. Valenzuela’s son, Fernando Jr. currently plays for the Charros and was on hand during the weekend ceremony.

“My dad deserves all the tributes including this one,” he told the media. “Throwing the first pitch, getting his number retired, I know he played many years with the Charros, but this tribute is to recognize what he’s done for baseball in general.”

In addition to retiring his jersey on Friday, the Charros sold special Valenzuela merchandise throughout the Estadio Panamericano de Atletismo. #34 jerseys were available for purchase as well as signed memorabilia and much more. Valenzuela brought his family with him to Guadalajara, and they were on hand for the game on Friday for the ceremonial first pitch and jersey retirement ceremony.

On Saturday, Valenzuela was back at the Stadium where a bronze statue was unveiled in his honor. Thousands of “Fernandomanía” fans were on hand for the unveiling but nobody seemed to be more appreciative or emotional than Valenzuela himself.

“This statue looks like me, looks like how I pitched,” he said. “I feel very happy about this statue that my first one is here. I feel a lot of emotion, a lot of live from the people here. This moment has given me goosebumps.”

During the statue unveiling ceremony, Valenzuela made himself available to fans to sign autographs and met with local little league players. He held a press conference before the unveiling to answer questions from the local media and all the while did it with a smile on his face.

“I would be better at being on the mound, bases loaded and no outs, than here in front of you all,” he joked. “It’s beautiful because when you’re on the field, you don’t really understand how people feel about you, but off the field you can see that people root for you, remember you. It’s something really nice for me, that you all appreciate my career.”

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