Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier/SportsIllustrated.com
An hour-long documentary about Fernando Valenzuela’s cultural impact on the city of Los Angeles has been added to the ESPN “30 For 30” series, to air on Tuesday, Oct. 26 on ESPN at 5 p.m.
L.A.-raised Cruz Angeles, who created some buzz with his 2009 Sundance Film Festival feature, “Don’t Let Me Drown,” directed the project.
The ESPN summary of it:
‘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,” Mexican-born and Los Angeles-raised 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 phenoms baseball has ever seen. Nicknamed “El Toro” by his fans, Fernando Valenzuela ignited a fire that spread from LA to New York–and beyond. 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.
The documentary will actually debut on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. on ESPN Deportes before it’s appearance on ESPN.