Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s Hall of Fame father was there to witness his first career MLB hit on Friday, and celebrated along with the fans at Rogers Centre.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., hitless so far in his MLB debut, came to bat for the Toronto Blue Jays to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game with the chance to author a fairytale ending. He came through, slapping a double down the right-field line that eventually became the game-winning run in a 4-2 Blue Jays win over the Oakland Athletics on Friday.
The 28,000 fans who came to Rogers Centre to witness a piece of Blue Jays history erupted in unison as Guerrero, the most anticipated prospect in franchise history and maybe ever, slid into second base. The cheers of one person in particular, though, probably meant the most to Guerrero.
His father, Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr., watched his son’s debut from a private box at Rogers Centre. When the junior Vlad lined the ball to right, Vlad Sr. could barely hold back his tears. Family members sitting with him started congratulating him with high-fives as Guerrero Sr. flashed a wide smile.
When the game was over, Guerrero Sr. was still showing his emotions on social media. “That’s my boy! Im proud of you @vladdyjr27,” he wrote on Twitter above a picture of his son holding the ball from his first hit. To go with a picture of father and son embracing in the clubhouse, Guerrero Sr. wrote, “I can’t even explain how I feel, there’s no words to describe how proud i am of you.”
Guerrero Jr. finished the game 1-4 with a double. His debut bears a striking similarity to his father’s first game, 23 years earlier. Guerrero Sr. went 1-5 in his debut on Sept. 19, 1996, with the Montreal Expos scoring four runs in the ninth inning to beat the Atlanta Braves.
Guerrero Sr. ended his 16-year career with a .318 average and 449 home runs. He won the 2004 American League MVP and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018. His 20-year-old son, who was born in Montreal while his father was playing with the Expos, can’t match his father’s credentials just yet. But he’s just getting started, and after what he showed on Friday, he has all the potential not just to match his father but to surpass him when his career is done with.