During his 16-year career, Vladimir Guerrero rarely left fans wanting more, although his speech on Sunday as he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame may have been an exception.
Guerrero was always a man of few words, and he held true to that reputation on Sunday in Cooperstown, NY, in a brief speech that lasted less than four minutes and was translated from Spanish.
“When I was a player, I always mentioned that I wanted my bat to do the talking, but now that I’m not playing, I’m very happy to stand here and to talk, to be standing here and talking to you,” he said.
After thanking God, his parents and his entourage, Guerrero took the time to thank Canada and Montreal “for the first opportunity to be a big league player.”
He also mentioned his two main managers, Felipe Alou of the Expos and Mike Scioscia of Angels, and said he was honoured to be among his fellow inductees including Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, Jack Morris, Jim Thome and Alan Trammell.
“I know I don’t speak a whole lot, but let me tell you I’m so happy to be part of this group because some of them I saw and watched play and I witnessed it, but I also got to play against a lot of them and it means a lot to me,” he said.
In a slightly more eloquent fashion, Pedro Martinez paid homage to his former adversary and teammate in an introductory video presented by MLB Network.
“I took it to extremes with Vladdy. My mentality was to walk him,” the former starting pitcher said.
“I wanted to really get out of the strike zone. I knew he could reach a foot outside, so if I went outside really high or really low, like a 55-footer, because on the day you miss your location, Vladdy will burn you.”
Guerrero was wearing an Anaheim Angels cap as he became the first position player from the Dominican Republic to be inducted, and only the third player from that country to make the exclusive club, behind pitchers Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez.
He finished his short speech with an homage to the Dominican town of Don Gregario, where he lives.
Guerrero received a commemorative plaque that described him as a “five-tool talent from the Dominican Republic,” who was known for his distinctive approach in the batting box “and aggressive style in the field and on the basepaths.”
Guerrero, who spent eight seasons in Montreal, had a .318 career average and knocked home 449 home runs while topping the 100-RBI mark on 10 separate occasions, the plate noted.
“Drove in 126 runs to earn 2004 AL MVP honours in first season with the Angels after eight years with the Expos as a phenom. Led all outfielders in assists over 10 years in right field, nine all-star game appearances and eight silver sluggers awards,” it read.