Universal Content Productions is making a limited TV series about MLB legend and Mexican icon, Fernando “El Toro” Valenzuela. The series is still in development but Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (American Horror Story) and MLB’s Nick Trotta (30 for 30) will be co-producers, as well as Valenzuela and his agent.
UCP describes the story as such: “The first time Fernando Valenzuela has ever told his story, this series will follow the legendary Dodgers pitcher from his time playing on dirt fields in rural Mexico to winning the World Series in 1981 — and changing baseball forever.”
Valenzuela took America by storm in the spring of 1981. Deemed “Fernandomania,” Valenzuela won his first eight consecutive starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers won the World Series that season and Valenzuela won Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young award in the same season. No other player has ever done that. He is also deemed by many as the greatest Mexican baseball player of all time.
Valenzuela’s status as a pop culture icon that summer cannot be understated. He outsold Rocky and Superman combined with 75,000 poster sales that year. People ran onto the field to try and shake his hand. And after he retired, Valenzuela served as a Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcaster.
Valenzuela expressed support and excitement for the series based on him. “UCP has assembled a great team,” he said. “I am honored to be able to tell my story, my experiences in my own words.”
“Fernandomania” is still being celebrated to this day. In fact, in February the Dodgers announced that they will be retiring Valenzuela’s number 34 in a three-day celebration fittingly titled, “Fernandomania.” This is the first time any player not already inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame has had this honor.
The most recent documentary honoring Latinos in baseball was about the most famous and celebrated Latino in MLB history, Roberto Clemente. And if networks are looking for other Latinos to celebrate with bioseries, we’ve got some ideas.
One name that comes to mind is Juan Marichal, the Dominican pitcher who played from 1960-75 and was the first Dominican ever inducted into MLB’s Hall of Fame. Pedro Martínez, Orlando Cepeda, and even Minnie Miñoso, who played as early as 1949 in Major League Baseball, are also all players who could have absolutely have a series dedicated to them.