The Los Angeles Dodgers passed. The Texas Rangers also passed. But Montreal Expos scout Fred Ferreira offered Vladimir a tryout. The result? On February 24, 1993, Vladimir Guerrero signed with the Montreal Expos. Vladimir Guerrero has two true rookie cards.
An Offensive & Defensive Powerhouse
The first thing you need to know Vladimir Guerrero Sr is that he was an offensive and defensive power house. Today when I think of baseball’s big men I think of 6′ 7″ Aaron Judge or 6′ 6″ Giancarlo Stanton.
Likewise, when I think of big men at the turn of the century I think of 6′ 3″ 235 lbs Vladimir Guerrero Sr.
He was a strong man with long legs and what appeared to be even longer arms that gave him the unusual ability to hit anything you threw at him.
Vladimir debuted in the MLB on September 19, 1996. He played eight years for the Montreal Expos, six years with Los Angeles Angels, one year with the Texas Rangers, and ending his career with a one-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles in 2011.
Defensively Vladimir was known and feared for his superhuman arm strength with bull’s eye accuracy.
Batters would hit to the deepest crevice of right field and would settle for a double before challenging the arm of Vladimir Guerrero.
Offensively he flustered pitchers and catchers alike, the claim was it didn’t matter where you threw the ball; up high, down low, way outside, or jamming him in – he would hit it. Legend has it if the ball would hit the dirt a couple of feet short of home plate, didn’t matter, he would hit those too.
Phillies Center Fielder Doug Glanville once said,
“I watched this guy destroy us, everything you threw up there he hit hard. It was ridiculous. He hit balls with crazy english and crazy spin. It was like there were chain saws coming at you.”
Vladimir Guerrero an Old School Batter
A couple of nuances worthy of mention here. Guerrero never wore batting gloves, a practice rarely seen today. Vladdy was old school in that respect.
In an interview with Yahoo Sports, he attributed this to helping his grandfather pull cows bare-handed as a young boy in the Dominican Republic.
A second nuance, to improve his grip, Vladimir would coat his helmet with pine tar and would rub his hands on his helmet before stepping into the batter’s box.
Guerrero was a power-hitter. He was proactive, aggressive, and physically strong. Often seen with a big smile on his face and a great attitude.
Vladimir Trade Motivates Best Season
2003 was Vladimir’s Guerrero final year with the Montreal Expos. Mets made an offer but in 2004 Vladimir started the season playing for the Angels.
Vladimir started the season slowly but turned it on towards the end of the season. So much so, he helped the Angels squeak past the Oakland A’s to get into the Playoffs.
In the postseason he delivered as well, the problem is “the Yankees” of that era were unstoppable.
He won the MVP award in 2004, and Manager Mike Scioscia said this of Vladimir,
“Our expectations were high, and he met every one of them,” said manager Scioscia. “He carried the team single-handedly [down the stretch]. All of major-league baseball had its eyes on Vlad, and he had an incredible season, and I think it speaks volumes about the talent he has.”
Career Stats & Accomplishments
According to Baseball-Reference.com Vladimir Guerrero career stats are: 2,590 Hits | 449 Home Runs | 1,496 RBI | .318 Batting Average.
- 9x All-Star
- 8x Silver Slugger
- 2004 AL MVP
- 2010 Edgar Martinez Award
- 2018 Hall of Fame Induction
Vladimir Guerrero True Rookie Cards:
1995 Bowman, #90 (RC)
1995 Bowman was a 439 card set released in a single series.
The popularity of the Bowman baseball card brand peaked with this 1995 offering. The rookie card of Andru Jones and what he accomplished in the 1995 World Series was the spark that caused this product to be blistering hot for quite some time.
Today, the Jones rookie card has cooled off significantly and the white-hot RC of this set for some time now is of newly inducted Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero.
However, the card design makes me scratch my head.
The player photo appears to be inside of a mirrored box as we can see what seems to be a reflection of the photo to the left and bottom of the card. Where they lose me is the reflection on the left has a green tint and a brown tint on the bottom.
Card back gives us another photo of Vladdy but it’s really hard for me to make out what happened to his right arm.
At first glance I thought he was knelt down washing the hood of a car, turns out it’s not his arm at all but a big photo of a baseball glove with a baseball inside of it, kind of random.
There are no parallels for this card in this set.
1995 Bowman’s Best, #2 (RC)
1995 Bowman’s Best is a 195 card set released in a single series.
This was Bowman’s premium product. It was small in size but that didn’t stop this from becoming a hit with collectors. It was split up into three subsets; cards 1-90 were rookies, card 91-180 were veterans, and cards 181-195 were the Mirror Image cards.
Vladimir Guerrero’s name is stamped across the very top of the card and the Bowman’s Best emblem is stamped on the bottom. The chrome like technology is amazing but susceptible to scratches, handle with care.
The card back is split up into two halves. The upper half gives us a portrait photo with some minor league stats. The lower half is very organized giving us a player bio, Super Skills, and Super Stats.
There is one parallel, the hobby heavyweight, Refractors seeded 1:12 packs.
Happy Collecting Collectors,
Learn. Collect. Enjoy.