Sunday, January 28, 2018
Top Five: Vladimir Guerrero
I've been waiting my entire adult life to say the words I'm about to say, so here goes nothing: VLADIMIR GUERRERO IS A HALL OF FAMER!
It's hard to explain what I felt when I received the news that Vlad (along with other well-deserving greats in Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, and Jim Thome) would be enshrined in Cooperstown this year. I mean, the guy's my favorite player of my baseball lifetime, and now he's in the Hall of Fame -- how do you even begin to put that into words?
I suppose I could start with my cards, because it seems like I've been collecting Vlad my entire life. As of this writing, I own 986 different Vlads, far and away the most of any single player in my binders. With a number like that, you can only imagine how difficult it was to narrow down my five favorites, because, after all, that's about a half-of-a-percent of everything I have.
But somehow I did it, and here's my Top Five favorites of the Hall of Famer himself, Vladimir Guerrero.
#5 -- 2001 Upper Deck Vintage #190 Vladimir Guerrero
Any player would look stunning in front of the industrial backdrop of Camden Yards, but it seems to suit Vlad especially.
#4 -- 2008 Upper Deck #9 Vladimir Guerrero
I will say that I'm a bit disappointed that Vlad is going into the Hall of Fame as an Angel.
Don't get me wrong: Vlad spent six terrific seasons in Anaheim (including an MVP award in 2004), and he'll receive the great honor of becoming the first player to be wearing an Angels cap on his HOF plaque. And this, one of his finest cards, features him in the full red-and-white glory of his Angels years.
But Vlad, to me, is first and foremost a Montreal Expo, and Cooperstown needs all the Expos it can get at this point.
#3 -- 1995 Upper Deck Minors #127 Vladimir Guerrero
This is one of those rare cards that instantly transports me to a specific time and place: it takes me back to a wet and otherwise uninspiring afternoon at the flea market many years ago.
Nothing much was happening that day in the way of cards until the very last aisle, when I stumbled across a seemingly innocent nickel box. And then, WHAM, this precious Vlad fell out of it, one of his earliest cardboard sightings, and the first big card I added to what was then still a fairly modest collection of his. And for a nickel!
That had to have been about a decade ago, and while I've acquired several hundred more Vlads in the interim, this one remains a special treasure for the memory alone.
#2 -- 1995 Bowman #90 Vladimir Guerrero RC
Best I can tell, Vlad has only two true rookie cards to his name, and for a long time I thought my collection would have to make due without either of them.
The first continues to elude me, and the one you see above probably would've suffered the same fate had a Cardboard God named Wes not stepped in and gifted me Vlad's 1995 Bowman rookie out of the blue a few years back.
Proof that blogger generosity knows no bounds, because I seriously doubt I'd own this card today without the help of Wes's kind soul.
#1 -- 1998 Topps #5 Vladimir Guerrero
When I picture Vladimir Guerrero, this is the image that comes to mind, and it's is a bit jarring since '98 Topps has long been one of my least-favorite Topps sets.
But the Expos pinstripes, the clouds at his back, the wide smile: everything here is Vlad to a T -- simply a gregarious man willing to have a little daytime fun with a Topps photographer. And I, for one, can't wait to see the man behind that contagious grin earn his rightful place in Cooperstown this summer.