Ten Who Missed: No. 10, Vladimir Guerrero
Happy Father’s Day! As promised, today I’m launching the much-anticipated TEN WHO MISSED series, which will feature full-length essays on 10 players who just missed The Baseball 100, as chosen by you brilliant readers. We’ll have a new TEN WHO MISSED essay every week (looks like Friday will be the day). It should be really fun, and a perfect companion to The Baseball 100. Also if you have not yet checked out our Why We Love Baseball survey, please do. And thanks, as always for your support!
Yes, it is much, much, much too early to be talking about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Hall of Fame. As I write these words, he’s only 23 years old and has played fewer than 400 big-league games. But maybe it’s not too early to dream about something that seems impossible — a father and a son both ending up in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Well, technically, it has already happened — but not for players. Larry McPhail, the baseball executive usually credited with pioneering night baseball*, and his son Lee McPhail, who was an executive for the 1950s Yankees and 1960s Orioles and American League president for a decade, are both in the Hall.
*McPhail pioneered night baseball several years after it was a regular part of the Negro leagues.
I’d say the father-son player combo that has come closest to the Hall of Fame is probably Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds, which is a funny thing to say, considering neither one is in the Hall. But Barry was obviously one of the greatest players ever and Bobby’s credentials are better than you would think — 57.8 career WAR, five 30-30 seasons, three Gold Gloves, etc.
You could argue that the Ken Griffeys are actually closer, since Junior was a near-unanimous Hall of Fame selection and Senior was a three-time All-Star. I think Bobby was considerably closer to being a Hall of Fame-caliber player than Ken Sr., but I’m not sure this is a subject really worth arguing about.
The Vlady Guerreros have a chance to become the first, which would be awesome.
But even cooler — with all due respect to the Griffeys and Bondses, the Alous and Boones, Alomars and Witts, Fielders and Bells and Biggios and Bichettes — I think the Guerreros are already the most fun father-son duo in baseball history.
OK, we should define our terms here: In my lifetime, there have been certain athletes who were just plain fun to watch. Some of them were also great players — Magic Johnson, Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers, Muhammad Ali, John McEnroe, Pistol Pete Maravich, Steph Curry and so on.
Off the top of my head — and don’t hold me to this — I’d probably list off the greatest North American fathers and sons in sports like so: