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Dodger Icon Fernando Valenzuela Appointed Special POTUS Ambassador

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(Photo by Rob Brown via the Los Angeles Public LIbrary Photo Collection)
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President Obama appointed former Dodgers pitcher and current broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela to a position as "Presidential Ambassador for Citizenship and Naturalization" on Thursday.

The appointment is part of the Obama administration's new Stand Stronger program that aims to promote the rights and opportunities for lawful, permanent residents, and will help these eligible immigrants and refugees become U.S. citizens, the L.A. Times reports. Of the approximately 13.3 million lawful permanent residents living in the United States, 8.8 million of them are eligible to apply for citizenship, says the program's fact sheet. Stand Stronger was just announced today on "Constitution and Citizenship Day," a holiday that commemorates the signing of the Constitution on this day in 1787, has a really beautiful website to boot. Among the other celebrity ambassadors appointed by Obama are chef José André, actress Diane Guerrero, and musician Dave Matthews.

In a statement, Dodgers President and CEO Stan Kasten said, "We congratulate one of the greatest Dodger icons, Fernando Valenzuela, on his White House appointment. Fernandomania was a special time in Los Angeles and all across Major League Baseball. He is a great American and will serve our country well as an ambassador."

Valenzuela, who was born in the state of Sonora, Mexico, became a U.S. citizen this July in a ceremony at City Hall—36 years after arriving in the country. His 1981 rookie season for the Dodgers was the stuff of legends; called the "Mexican Sandy Koufax" by then-owner Walter O'Malley, Valenzuela ushered in "Fernandomania," a period of frenzied fandom that revitalized the Dodgers, and capitalized on the growing Latino fan population.

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Coincidentally, on this day in 1981, Valenzuela pitched the eighth shutout of his rookie season.

And in *another* Valenzuela-related coincidence for you: last night was Fernando Valenzuela Bobblehead Night at Dodger Stadium. You might be able to cop one on ebay.