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 lb Vladimir Guerrero. 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, one with the Texas Rangers and ending his career with a one year contract with the Baltimore Orioles in 2011. He is a 9x All-Star, 8x Silver Slugger Award winner and the 2004 AL MVP.
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.”
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. He did however, in an effort to improve his grip, would coat his helmet with pine tar and would rub his hands on his helmet before stepping into the batters 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 his career stat line reads: 2,590 Hits | 449 Home Runs | 1,496 RBI’s
ROOKIE CARDS OF HALL OF FAMER VLADIMIR GUERRERO
1995 Bowman, Card No. 90 (shop eBay)
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 RC 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.
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. However, they lose me because the reflection on the left has a green tint and a brown tint on the bottom. The Bowman emblem is in a red foil at top right of card which is a nice touch and the players last name is in silver foil on the lower right side of the card. Team emblem on the lower left side complete the card front which sits on white borders. The 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. We also get great player bio and instead of player commentary we get a “Scouting Report.” Card bottom gives us stats for the 94 season and the red and black vertical text boxes to the far right is a welcomed distraction. Overall a busy card but one for the ages.
As of the date of this post raw copies sell for $6.00-$15.00; graded mint copies (9’s) sell between $30.00-$40.00 and gem mint copies (10’s) sell in the $100.00-$135.00 range.
1995 Bowman’s Best, Card No. 2 (shop eBay)
In 1995 this was Bowman’s premium product. It was small in size with only 195 cards making up the complete set 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.
The card front is all foil. Vladdy’s name is stamped across the very top of card and the Bowman’s Best emblem stamped on the bottom. There is a large team logo that mimics a banner and a large blue stripe that runs across the bottom half of card. 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 player bio, Super Skills, and Super Stats.
As of the date of this post raw copies sell for $6.00-$15.00; graded mint copies (9’s) sell between $30.00-$55.00 and gem mint copies (10’s) sell in the $270.00-$325.00 range.
Halo Hangout. Vladimir Guerrero to be the first LA Angels player in the HOF? Digital Image. (accessed December 29, 2017) https://halohangout.com/2017/11/28/vladimir-guerrero-first-la-angels-player-hof/
Vladimir Guerrero Stats | Baseball-Reference.com https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/guerrvl01.shtml (accessed December 29, 2017).
Wikipedia contributors, “Vladimir Guerrero,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Vladimir_Guerrero&oldid=810900620 (accessed December 29, 2017).