ESPN Deportes To Televise Premiere of Fernando Nation

ESPN DeportesESPN Films

ESPN Deportes To Televise Premiere of Fernando Nation

October 18, 2010 

Fernando Valenzuela Documentary Added to ESPN Films’ Acclaimed ’30 for 30’ Lineup

Fernando Valenzuela

ESPN Deportes will televise the premiere of Fernando Nation, a documentary that focuses on the struggle, triumph and “ganas” of Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. The film was recently added to ESPN Films’ critically acclaimed documentary series 30 for 30 featuring films from some of today’s finest filmmakers. Fernando Nation premieres on ESPN Deportes, Sunday, October 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET and on ESPN (English) on Tuesday, October 26 at 8:00 p.m. ET, with re-airs on ESPN2 and ESPN Classic. Dodger Fans remember him as “El Toro.”  A 20-year-old left-hander pitcher from Sonora, Mexico, Valenzuela took Los Angeles by storm almost 30 years ago.  Known for his unconventional pitching delivery, he would go on to receive Rookie of the Year honors, the Cy Young Award and a World Series ring in his debut season in 1981. 

Directed by Cruz Angeles, who was born in Mexico City and raised in South Central Los Angeles, the documentary focuses on the cultural impact of the first Mexican to play for the Dodgers.  Through his successful run with the club, Valenzuela epitomized the American dream and helped repair the relationship between the organization and the Latino community in Los Angeles, who criticized the Dodgers for building Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine.

The documentary also features interviews with former Dodger Pitcher Orel Hershiser, Boxer Oscar De La Hoya, and Labor Leader Dolores Huerta.

Film Summary for Fernando Nation (Directed by Cruz Angeles)
“’The Natural’ is supposed to be a blue-eyed boy who teethed on a 36-ounce Louisville Slugger. He should run like the wind and throw boysenberries through brick.  He should come from California.” – Steve Wulf, Sports Illustrated, 1981. 

So how was it that a pudgy 20-year-old, Mexican, left-handed pitcher from a remote village in the Sonoran desert, unable to speak a word of English, could sell out stadiums across America and become a rock star overnight?  

In Fernando Nation, director Cruz Angeles traces the history of a community that was torn apart when Dodger Stadium was built in Chavez Ravine and then revitalized by one of the most captivating pitching phenomenon baseball has ever seen.  

Nicknamed “El Toro” by his fans, Fernando Valenzuela ignited a fire that spread from coast to coast, L.A. to New York.  He vaulted himself onto the prime time stage and proved with his signature look to the heavens and killer screwball that the American dream was not reserved for those born on U.S. soil. 

In this layered look at the myth and the man, Cruz Angeles recalls the euphoria around Fernando’s arrival and probes a phenomenon that transcended baseball for many Mexican-Americans. Fernando Valenzuela himself opens up to share his perspective on this very special time.  Three decades later, “Fernandomania” lives. 

For film clips, click here:

– 30 –

Back to top button