At the height of Fernandomania 32 years ago, Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda had enough on his plate managing a playoff-contending team with 25 vastly different personalities against a stacked National League with powerhouse rivals in Philadelphia, Houston, Montreal and Cincinnati. Let alone looking out for opposing teams eager to cash in on 20-year-old pitching sensation Fernando Valenzuela, who burst onto the scene on Opening Day and went on to pitch the Dodgers to a World Series championship and became the first player in history to win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards in the same season. But Lasorda soon discovered managing Valenzuela required functions not normally associated with managing a typical ballclub. "I'd literally get calls from opposing teams asking me if I could figure out a way so Fernando could pitch while we were in their cities," Lasorda remembers. "I mean, I'm just trying to manage my club on an every-day basis. But everywhere we went, people wanted to see him." And make a fast buck, of course. "I'm sure none of those teams really wanted to face Fernando. Let's face it, he was dominating baseball," said then-Dodgers public relations director Steve Brener, laughing. "But if facing him meant a big gate, well ..." In that sense, the frenzy surrounding new Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, the 22-year-old Cuban rookie who has captured the imagination of baseball the same way Valenzuela did three decades ago, is somewhat different.
Puigmania brings back memories of Fernandomania
L.A. Daily News | Jun 11