ANAHEIM -- Vladimir Guerrero will have to wait at least one more year before entering Cooperstown, but on Saturday evening, he became the newest member of the Angels' Hall of Fame.The Angels inducted Guerrero into their Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony at Angel Stadium, honoring one of most
ANAHEIM -- Vladimir Guerrero will have to wait at least one more year before entering Cooperstown, but on Saturday evening, he became the newest member of the Angels' Hall of Fame.
The Angels inducted Guerrero into their Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony at Angel Stadium, honoring one of most electrifying hitters in franchise history. Guerrero spent six of his 16 years in the Majors with the Angels, capturing the 2004 American League MVP Award, earning four All-Star selections and spurring the club to five AL West titles during his tenure in Southern California.
"I feel very happy and honored," Guerrero said in Spanish. "It was my second team in the Majors, and I'm very excited that the Angels decided to induct me into their Hall of Fame."
The Angels had "Vlad Guerrero" etched in the outfield for the occasion and also paid tribute to Guerrero's heritage by playing the national anthem of the Dominican Republic at the start of the on-field festivities. After a video tribute for Guerrero, Angels owner Arte Moreno presented the slugger with a special ring emblazoned with the club's logo and his No. 27.
The ceremony concluded with Guerrero throwing out the first pitch to his countryman, Angels designated hitter Jose Pujols.
Fellow Angels Hall of Famers Garret Anderson, Rod Carew, Chuck Finley, Bobby Grich, Bobby Knoop, Tim Salmon and Mike Witt were all on hand to watch Guerrero become the 16th member of their exclusive club. Several of Guerrero's family members were also in attendance, including his mother, Altagracia Alvino, who provided home-cooked Dominican meals for the Angels and other Latino players during her son's career.
"It's a fun day," said Mike Scioscia, who managed Guerrero during his entire stint with the Angels. "A lot of people look at Vlad and they just see the great ballplayer on the field, but we got to see what Vlad is really like. He's an incredible person. I don't remember a day he came in when he wasn't smiling or a day when he wasn't bringing food that his mom made for the whole team. We're excited to honor him tonight."
Guerrero was known for his cannon of an arm and his temerity to swing at any pitch, even collecting hits on balls that had already bounced on the dirt. He remains the franchise's all-time leader in batting average (.319) and ranks fourth in on-base percentage (.381), second in slugging percentage (.526) and sixth in home runs (173).
"He did things differently," Scioscia said. "He knew what his talent was, and he was like that wild horse. You just let him go out there and play, and that's when he was at his best."
Guerrero said he thinks his best moment with the Angels came in 2004, when he helped lead the club to the division title in his first season in Anaheim. He spent the first eight years of his career with the Expos and never reached the playoffs with Montreal.
Guerrero finished his career with a .318 batting average, 449 home runs and 1,496 RBIs over 16 seasons. In January, he fell just short of election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, drawing 71.7 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot. A 75-percent threshold is required for entry into the Hall of Fame.
"I was happy because I came close to getting into the Hall of Fame," Guerrero said. "We'll wait to see what God can do next year."
The bigger question is whether he will go into Cooperstown with an Angels cap or an Expos cap. Guerrero couldn't help but wince playfully when a reporter posed the question on Saturday.
"That I don't know," Guerrero said. "I know I had good years with both teams, so we'll just wait and see what happens."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.