Rob Brown / Herald Examiner Collection
Perhaps no event had as long-lasting influence on the Dodgers fan base as Fernandomania. The phenomenon started on opening day of the 1981 season when Fernando Valenzuela, a pudgy 20-year-old rookie left-hander from Mexico, drew the starting assignment because Jerry Reuss and Burt Hooton were hurt. Valenzuela pitched a shutout to beat the Houston Astros, 2-0. Valenzuela started the season 8-0 with a 0.50 earned-run average. Demand for his time was such that he had to conduct news conferences in every city the Dodgers visited. Valenzuela went on to win the Cy Young Award and the Dodgers the World Series. The lasting impact of Fernandomania can be seen in the once-monolingual stands at Dodger Stadium. According to research conducted by the Dodgers, about 40% of their fan base is Latino.