Valenzuela, Garciaparra Honored

The Los Dodgers and the Dodgers Dream Foundation played a central role at the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Hall of Fame Banquet Feb. 8 at the Globe Theatre at Universal Studios in Universal City.

      As part of the awards ceremonies, 1981 Rookie of the Year & Cy Young Award-winner Fernando Valenzuela received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Valenzuela currently serves as a member of the Dodgers' Spanish-language broadcast team and hosts children's groups from local communities at designated home games throughout the season as part of the Dodgers' Los Amigos de Fernando program presented by Cacique and Las Palmas. The groups, which consist of 34 children in honor of the uniform number Valenzuela wore with the Dodgers, participate in pregame activities with the left-hander,

Tommy Lasorda, the Hall of Fame Manager and Los Angeles Dodger Special Advisor to the Chairman, presented the award to Valenzuela. Lasorda guided the Los Angeles Dodgers for 20 years (1977-1996), during which he led the team to eight division titles, four National League pennants and two World Championships (1981 and 1988).  

Dodger first-baseman Nomar Garciaparra, the 2006 National League Comeback Player of the Year, was honored with the RBI Children's Choice Award. A former Rookie of the Year as well, Garciaparra has been named to the All-Star team six times and led the American League in hitting in both 1999 and 2000. In his first season with the Dodgers, Garciaparra participated in numerous community events and clinics and recently launched his own charitable organization with his wife, Mia Hamm.  

Al Downing, a former Dodger pitcher, broadcaster and member of the Speakers Bureau, received the RBI Chat Brewer Award. A 17-year veteran of the Majors, Downing led the league in 1964 with 217 strikeouts, and became the sixth American League pitcher and 13th pitcher in Major League history to strike out three batters on nine pitches in 1967. Downing spent seven years with the Dodgers and was a 20-game winner in his first season in a Dodger uniform.  

Other honorees at the event included former Dodger Enos Cabell and Bobby Tolan who were inducted into the RBI Hall of Fame, and Derrek Lee, who will receive the RBI Image Award.  

Popular talk-show host Larry King wwas emce of this event for his fourth consecutive year. Joining King as the host for the evening was Dodger broadcaster Charley Steiner.  Among the attendees were RBI Hall of Famer "Sweet" Lou Johnson, former Dodger greats Ron Cey, Bobby Castillo and Kenny Landreaux and current Dodgers James Loney and Juan Pierre.  

RBI is a baseball program that provides academic help while encouraging community and social responsibility.  Founded in 1989 by John Young, RBI is the preeminent program of its kind that helps kids in the inner city.  

The reception and silent auction was held with the dinner and awards program later.