Record-breaking athletes that have natural skill and passion are rare occurrences across all leagues. What’s even more unique is when a father and son duo are both equally impressive, with one being named an MLB Hall of Famer and another on his way at an age when others are still hoping to be drafted. The saying, “Vladimir Sr. walked so Vlad Jr. could run,” has never been more appropriate than with this sports duo.
The Vladimir Guerrero Baseball Academy
Vladimir Guerrero Sr. is an MLB Hall of Famer who spent 16 seasons as one of the most-watched MLB players. He officially retired from professional baseball in 2011, completing the season with a .318 batting average, 449 home runs, 1,496 RBIs, and almost 2,600 hits. What does a baseball legend do after retiring?
In the case of Vladimir Guerrero, he opened a baseball academy. Vladimir Guerrero wanted to give back to his hometown in the Dominican Republic and give teens the same chance at a professional baseball career that he had. He founded the Academia de Beisbol Hermanos Guerrero (Guerrero Brothers Baseball Academy), and it was only natural that his own son, Vlad Jr., who had his own hopes and dreams of playing professional baseball, would attend the academy.
The fact that Vlad Jr.’s last name is on the building isn’t the only thing impressive about him. He’s also just as good as, if not better than, Vladimir Sr.
Vladimir Sr. has been coaching Vlad Jr. since he was just 5 years old. In addition to his natural talent, he has helped instill in his son a level of work ethic that’s needed to play professional sports. Vlad Jr. left school to practice baseball in his teen years and was home-schooled in between baseball practices. As a teenager, he never took a day off, with the exception of switching to softball on Sundays.
Vlad Sr.’s early childhood also included baseball practices, but that’s where the similarities stop. Whereas Vladimir Sr. came from nothing and had to get by on his natural skill, Vlad Jr. had access to a proven professional baseball player right at home to help him navigate the ups and downs of pursuing a professional career. Vladimir Sr. began his baseball career as a child using a makeshift baseball glove made with milk cartons and baseballs made with socks stuffed with plastic bags.
Vlad Sr. was signed by the Montreal Expos in 1993. He worked his way through the minor league system and made his first MLB debut in 1996. The Dominican Republic does things differently, allowing players to sign with a team as early as their 16th birthday. Players from the Dominican Republic aren’t subject to the same draft rules as U.S. players.
This led to the Toronto Blue Jays seeking out Vlad Jr. early on. The first thing that the scouts noticed about Vlad Jr. is that he was Vlad Sr.’s son. Next, they noticed that their body types were different. Whereas Vlad Sr. was tall and lanky, Vlad Jr. was wider and bulkier. What made Vlad Jr. different from other prospects was that he was playing purely for the love of baseball. He didn’t need the money, as his father had a successful career. The Toronto Blue Jays signed 16-year-old Vlad Jr. as an international free agent in 2019.
Vladimir Sr.’s rookie year was in 1996, but because he only played a total of nine games, it’s common to include the 1997 season. By 1998, he recorded a total of 677 plate appearances and earned an average of .324, 38 home runs, and 109 RBIs. Vlad Jr.’s rookie year led to more appearances on the plate, with a total of 757. By 2021, he had an average of .320, 46 home runs, and 111 RBIs. When comparing the two Vladimir’s stats from their rookie seasons and seasons thereafter, they’re very similar.
Vlad Jr. has quite a list of impressive stats to compete with. Vladimir Guerrero Sr. finished his professional baseball career with nine All-Star appearances and one American League MVP. After a long career, Vlad Sr. was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018, right around the time his son’s career was taking off. The inspiring thing about Vlad Guerrero Jr. is that he’s not here to compete with his father. He’s here to make his own professional baseball legacy.
Vlad Jr. has already begun to break records that his dad never did in his career. He became the youngest player with three home runs and seven RBIs in a game. He has also hit his third career grand slam, making him the youngest player since Alex Rodriguez to do so.
Game Play Similarities
Although Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Vlad Guerrero Jr. have different builds, there are some similarities between them and their style of play. Of course, both Vladimirs share a deep passion for the game and a fun, light spirit that makes watching them entertaining.
Both are capable of hitting long balls on the field with a level of control not often seen. With a similar swing, purposeful way of playing, and competitive power, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Vlad Guerrero Jr. from afar. Both players are also extremely confident on the field. They are both good under pressure, a natural talent that doesn’t always come easily to sports players.
The competitive nature of Vlad Jr. also makes him want to do better than his dad. His dad had a total of nine All-Star games, meaning he’s aiming for 10. But, with stats like 449 career home runs, 1,496 RBIs, and almost 2,600 hits, he has quite a reputation to live up to. Vladimir Guerrero Sr. also hopes that his son can beat out his own records. He’s famously known for being short of overcoming Barry Bond’s record hits of 3,000. He hopes that Vlad Jr. can be the one to finally beat the record.
Game Play Differences
There are also some differences between the two. Whereas Vlad Sr. was known to swing at almost any pitch, Vlad Jr. tends to be more selective, carefully choosing the ones he’s most likely to hit. Vlad Sr. was known for being quiet, even after he became comfortable in the spotlight. Vlad Jr. is comfortable around the camera and is often known for his playful personality.
Vlad Sr. recorded a lot of game records but was never able to record a three-home run game. Vlad Jr. has already achieved two of these in the first few years of his career. Vlad Jr. has been considered for MVP at just 23 years of age when Vlad Sr. didn’t even qualify. If it weren’t for the greatness of Shohei Ohtani, Vlad Jr. would have likely taken home the MVP.
There are also differences between the power capabilities of each player. Vlad Jr. stands at a recognizable 6 foot, 1 inch and is 220 pounds. Vlad Jr.’s larger size gives him the ability to use more power when hitting. His large size may not be as surprising since it’s a part of the training at the academy. An on-site chef at the clinic aims to bulk up players to give them more hitting power.
More Guerrero Players
With the level of talent that Vladimir Guerrero Sr. has demonstrated to the world and the access to the baseball academy, it’s no surprise that Vlad. Jr isn’t the only Guerrero to watch. Gabby Guerrero plays for the Kansas City Monarchs and has played for the Cincinnati Reds and is a direct cousin of Vlad Jr.
Vlad Sr.’s brother, Eleazar, also played in the big leagues for a short period of time. At the time, both Eleazar and Vlad Sr. were considered by the Dodgers. Eleazar went on to play in the minor leagues, and Vlad Sr. was shortly sent back home before being scouted for Montreal. Another one of Vlad Sr.’s brothers, Wilton, also played in the major leagues. He played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, and Kansas City Royals. This shows the level of baseball skill in the Guerrero family.
Baseball has been a common birthright in many families all over the world. Fathers are traditionally the first person to throw a baseball back and forth when a child is first learning the game. But, few fathers are able to pass on their namesake, Hall of Famer reputation, and skill that leads to a successful baseball career. In the case of Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Vlad Guerrero Jr., fanatics already know that Vlad Jr. will match his Hall of Famer father’s career, but many wonder just how far he will surpass it.
Sports fans who stand behind Vlad Jr. can show their support with officially licensed sports apparel from Fanatics. Fans who remember the greatness of Vladimir Sr. can invest in sports collectibles and memorabilia. Team jerseys, T-shirts, baseball, and baseball bats all make for the perfect gear for any Guerrero fan.