Fernandomania is back.
Universal Content Productions has teamed up with the beloved Dodgers pitcher turned broadcaster for a scripted limited series based on his life and career. There is no network/platform connected yet.
The project, which is in development, comes from writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, the writing duo whose credits include the upcoming Netflix series. Painkiller and adapting those Disneys Bambi redo. Nick Trotta of Major League Baseball (The captain, 30 for 30) also linked to produce exec via MLB Studios.
Here’s how UCP describes the limited series: “The first time Fernando Valenzuela has ever told his story, this series follows the legendary Dodgers pitcher from his time playing on dirt fields in rural Mexico to winning the World Series in 1981 – and changing baseball forever.”
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the dying girl, the current war) is tied to exec produce and will lead the pilot if the project goes ahead. Valenzuela and former sports agent Harlan Werner will also be credited as EPs. A longtime sports card and memorabilia collector, Werner founded The Memorabilia Network and recently opened a store to support the digital auction platform in Sherman Oaks, California, where Valenzuela recently appeared.
“UCP has put together a great team. I am honored to be able to tell my story and my experiences in my own words,” said Valenzuela.
Valenzuela, who took over as lead Spanish-language broadcaster from the Dodgers after Jamie Jarrin’s retirement last year, spent 17 seasons in the major leagues. He burst into the league as a substitute pitcher in late 1980 before getting the surprise Opening Day start in 1981 and became a pop culture sensation after winning his first eight starts with an impressive 0.50 Earned Run Average. He would become the first player to win both Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award (the highest award given to a pitcher each year) in the same season. Valenzuela retired from baseball in 1997 and returned to the Dodgers in 2003 as a Spanish-language broadcaster. The Dodgers came earlier this year announced that the organization would revoke Valenzuela’s uniform number, 34, this summer during a three-day “Fernandomania” celebration scheduled for mid-August.
The Valenzuela Project marks the latest scripted series to be produced in connection with Major League Baseball. The league took on Fox’s scripted battle Pitch and rumored to be involved in Apple’s TV series about Yankees Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig. On the unscripted side, MLB Studios has produced documentary titles including Once upon a time in Queens And The captain for ESPNSay Hey, Willie Mays for HBO, After Jackie for history and more. Imagine Entertainment recently announced a partnership with MLB Studios to co-develop and produce projects with the league.
Valenzuela is represented by Werner. Harpster and Fitzerman-Blue are with UTA, Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment and Lichter Grossman. Gomez-Rejon is with CAA and Johnson Shapiro.