Passing the Torch
In 1990, Fernandomania came to a close with the Dodgers. Yet it didn’t come without a passing of the torch to another Latino pitching star — Ramon Martinez.
Both players had defining moments that year. Fernando Valenzuela, clearly not the same pitcher he was during the height of Fernandomania, still showed he had something left in the tank. On June 29, 1990, Valenzuela tossed the only no-hitter of his career in a 6-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Years later Valenzuela would reflect on the effort for Baseball Digest saying, “Many people were thinking my career was over when I hurt my arm (in 1988). But this game makes all that hard work to get back worthwhile.”
The Mexican-born pitcher finished the season at 13-13. It was the final season of a career that began in 1980 when he made his debut out of the bullpen on Sept. 15. The next year, Fernandomania was born and he won the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award.
Though he never reached the same heights as Valenzuela, Martinez nonetheless made an impact for the Dodgers, particularly in the 1990s.
He made his debut in 1988 and made 24 appearances in his first two seasons, but he was unleashed in 1990. The highlight of his one and only All-Star season came less than four weeks before Valenzuela’s no-hitter.
On June 4, 1990, the right-hander from the Dominican Republic struck out 18 Atlanta Braves, tying Sandy Koufax’s club record. Martinez went 20-6 in 1990 with a 2.92 ERA and 223 strikeouts.
His final season in a Dodger uniform was 1998. During the decade, he won 116 games, the most by a Dodger pitcher in the ’90s. On July 14, 1995, he pitched his own no-hitter in a 7-0 win over the Florida Marlins.