As the world's leading sports artist, Stephen Holland enjoys the title of official artist to many of the great sports teams in America. His is long history with the Los Angeles Dodgers is truly something special. Over the years Holland has captured in paint their greatest moments and players. Even for a team that has had such a consistently rich history filled with so many moments and stellar players worthy of celebrating, there are two specific golden eras that stand out. Both were led by two of the greatest lefty pitchers to have stood upon the mound, Sandy Koufax and Fernando Valenzuela.
If you lived in LA during the 80's, you were in the midst of "Fernando-Mania." In 1980 an unknown, 20 year old Mexican National, was brought up from the minors to play in the last month of the season. And in that short time he held the teams own in a drawn-out neck and neck battle for the division championship. From that moment on the game of baseball in LA was notched to full volume. With "El Toro" now throwing his signature screwballs, there was not a moment in Dodger-land where baseball was anything less then exciting. And Holland as he always does, captured every bit of it in his painting.
Along with the feeling of the time, Holland also brought us the unique style of a pitcher who threw like no-other. In the background of the painting he's shown Fernando at the precise moment when his wind-up would hit it's pinnacle and Fernando's eyes would raise up into the sky above him, almost as if he had chosen to look to the heavens. In the foreground a pitcher that no batter wanted to face. Both were distinctly Valenzuela.