Fernando Valenzuela is the only pitcher in MLB history to win both a Cy Young Award and the Rookie of the Year Award in the same season. He accomplished the feat back in 1981, when he was only twenty-one years old (he turned 52 today!). If that weren't enough... he also took home a World Series ring and a Silver Slugger Award that same season.
That year, he kicked off the season going 8-0 with 5 shutouts, 7 complete games, 68 K's, and a 0.50 ERA in his first eight starts. During that amazing stretch, he also batted an astounding .360, going 9 for 25 at the plate.
His performance took California media outlets by storm, filled stadiums, and obviously drew people into the (card collecting) hobby.
Both fans and collectors chased his Fleer and Topps rookie cards:
Later in the year, Topps issued their first 132 card factory "traded" set and included a new Valenzuela card. This time, he didn't have to share the spotlight with Perconte and Scioscia.
But just like most things in our hobby... Fernandomania eventually cooled off. But there are still plenty of collectors who chase and appreciate his cardboard... including myself. Two years ago, I shelled out $60 for this 2005 Sweet Spot autograph:
And I couldn't stop there. I recently picked up this 2002 Stadium Club "World Champion Relics" bat card:
And you know what that means... I've finally completed my El Toro Sports Card Trifecta.
Okay... your turn.
What were some of your favorite sports stories that took our hobby by storm?