Fernando Nation (2010)

DailyView: Day 347, Movie 495

As a lifelong Dodger baseball fan, when I came across this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on one of my all-time favorite pitchers, Fernando Valenzuela, it immediately went onto my watchlist.

Fernando Nation was a 51 minute doc on the history of one of the great phenoms in baseball history. Fernando Valenzuela was a 19-year old sensation when he started opening day for Los Angeles in 1981. The Dodgers initial opening day starter, Jerry Reuss, was not ready for the season to start and Fernando was given the ball in his first career start. He threw a complete game shutout against the Houston Astros and Fernandomania kicked off.

The doc looked back upon the racial troubles of Mexican-Americans in LA, especially with the ejection of several people from Chavez Ravine, the location where Walter O’Malley wanted to build his new Dodger Stadium for when the Dodgers moved west from Brooklyn. That was an interesting piece of history that I was unaware of, but that did not surprise me.

In his rookie season, Fernando started 8-0, with a ridiculous 0.4 ERA. He threw a bunch of complete games and helped lead the Dodgers to the World Series in that strike-shortened 1981 season.

They covered the rookie season fully, but the years post it was not covered as much. The doc looked at the contract dispute between LA and Fernando, and there were some ugly moments, including someone from immigration saying that if Fernando did not pitch for LA, he would be asked to return to Mexico.

The documentary was a great look at a pitcher who was a worldwide sensation and one who had to face difficulties as an idol for the Hispanic population of, not only Los Angeles, but of the world.

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