Today is the 23rd anniversary of Fernando Valenzuela’s no-hitter against the Cardinals. On June 29, of 1990, Fernando Valenzuela pitched what would be the second no-no of the day. Earlier that day, Dave Stewart pitched a no-hitter for the Oakland A’s, beating the Toronto Blue Jays. It was a rare day indeed, when two no-nos are pitched on the same day.
Fernando’s no-no came against the Cardinals and opposing starter Jose Deleon. The Dodgers would win that game by a score of 6-0. This was a game that saw Hubie Brooks hit a homer, a sacrifice squeeze from Stan Javier, and another home run, but that one was from Juan Samuel. Fernando actually got a hit and scored a run in this game as well. Remember how good of a hitter Fernando was?
In the top of the ninth, after Fernando had whiffed Vince Coleman, he lost Willie Mcgee, by walking him. With one out, former Dodger Pedro Guerrero’s grounder up the middle had looked like it was heading up the middle and into center field, which would have ruined Fernando’s no-no, of course, and possibly even the shut-out. But Fernando stuck his glove down and somehow grazed the ball just enough to slow it down so that Juan Samuel could gobble it up, and turn the game ending double play.
That game ending double play grounder was talked about a lot after the game. During the celebration, Fernando was asked if he thought that was going to be a hit. Fernando told reporters he did, and said if he hadn’t put his glove down to deflect it, that he would have been in trouble.
“If you have a sombrero, throw it to the sky!” ~ Vin Scully
It was also somewhat sad in a way, because everyone knew that this was Fernando’s last hurrah in a Dodger uniform. Indeed it would be Fernando’s final season with the Dodgers, as he was released the next spring.
If you can believe this, but I actually had a chance to go to Fernando’s no-hitter, but I got sick. I had tickets to the game, and was going to go with Stacie, and my Uncle. I was ten years old, at the time, and was very ill with the flu. I remember my Uncle telling me it was no big deal and that he would just eat the tickets, but if Fernando threw a no-hitter we would really regret it. Sigh, dam germs. Of course that would have been my Uncle’s unprecedented, fifth no-hitter seen in person. (He was present for Koufax’s 1962 no-hitter against the Mets, Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, Bill Singer’s no-hitter in 1971, and Kevin Gross’s no-hitter against the Giants in 1992).
Last season, I paid tribute to Fernando’s No-Hitter during my top ten Dodger Stadium moments of all time. Fernando’s no-hitter showed up as number four on the countdown.
Happy anniversary, Fernando! Your no-hitters was one of the most memorable and greatest Dodger moments of all time, capping off one of the greatest Dodger pitching careers of all time. Today we celebrate the accomplishment, of one of the most beloved Dodgers of all time. Fernando, we salute you, your no-hitter is a true Blue moment in time.