30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sports Card Trifecta #18: Fernando Valenzuela

Did you collect cardboard back in the early 80's?  If you did, then no doubt you remember Fernandomania!

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.

Unfortunately... I'm still hunting down this card for my PC.  So if you have an extra one laying around and you're interested in trading it... please let me know.

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?

Happy Birthday Mr. Valenzuela... Happy Thursday... and sayonara!


  1. To answer your question, it is Nomomania. Anytime a player can dominate and become a cultural icon at the same time is memorable. Nomo also have me great pride in my Japanese heritage.

    Fernando is till hugely popular in LA. His jersey is still seen around Dodger Stadium worn by fans. The Dodgers also honor him with a bobble once a year.

    1. I need to hunt down one of those bobble heads... but I'm sure they go for big dinero.

      Love Nomo too. Damn... starting to sound like I'm a Dodgers fan ;-)

  2. Vinsanity was awesome, that dunk contest was one of my favorite all star moments of all time

    1. Heck yeah... the dunk where McGrady tosses him the ball and he puts it under his leg is one of my favorite dunks of all-time.

  3. My favorite would be "The Killer B's." A trio of pitching prospects in the Yankees system that dominated the minors. Unfortunatly one of them (Andrew Brackman) is no longer with the Yankees, another just had Tommy John (Manny Banuelos) and the last (my favorite Dellin Betances) had a downright awful 2012 with a 6+ ERA in Triple A and a 6+ ERA in Double A after getting demoted.
    Despite that (and the fact that the Killer B's movement never took the hobby by storm, except amongst Yankees collectors) it's still my favorite. Coupled with Jesus Montero's progression it looked like the Yankees were finally starting a new chapter with homegrown talent. Unfortunatly a lot of things went wrong but a for brief moment there was a bright future.

    1. I'll have to look into the Killer B's... never heard of them, but they sound intriguing. Love it when teams compete with homegrown talent. Looking forward to watching it.