Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stole the show at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night, treating it like a Broadway one-man show. It was the 44th anniversary of Reggie Jackson’s home run against the White Sox and then showering the fans on the field with some of the Reggie bars that had been distributed that night by Standard Brands, showing that he paid attention when Reggie said that if he played in New York they would name a candy bar after him. And they did.
It was six months after Reggie had the most famous three-home run game in baseball history. In just three at-bats in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, he became Mr. October forever. Now here’s that talented kid, Vlad Jr., hitting three against the Yankees, the last two after being pinned to the right hand on a play at first base and needing a bandage to close a gash.
It all happened at the new stadium, during the first week of a new baseball season, when Yankees fans got to see what Guerrero could do in front of them there.
“It was a real New York moment,” Reggie said the next morning. “There’s just added value when you spend a night in New York like he did. Now don’t get me wrong: people would have sat up and noticed no matter where he hit three times last night. . It’s just different when you do it in New York. And trust me, nobody knows that better than me.”
“Now younger people might have to go back and look up what I’m referring to here,” he said. “But it’s like when The Beatles first appeared in New York on the old ‘Ed Sullivan Show.’ People already knew The Beatles by then, obviously. They were already a hit. But then they came to New York. In baseball last night, Vlad was like the Beatles coming to town back then.
Two home runs after Guerrero was spiked, you thought he might quit the game when he went to the dugout for the Blue Jays. The first two were hit by Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. There are other exciting swings in the game. Of course, Shohei Ohtani comes to mind. There’s no swing more thrilling, no more exciting at bat than when Guerrero is at home plate, earning a name in the Baseball Hall of Fame every time he heads for home plate.
“His dad was one of those guys, and so was his son,” Jackson said. “Their only real competition is the mirror. Can you imagine how much bigger his dad would have been if he had even played some of his best in New York?”
Then, on his side of the call, Mr. October connected, because he guessed that Vlad Jr.’s father – “Who swung at everything“Jackson said – had a career average of .311. It turned out to be .318.
“And he didn’t hit less than .300 until the end of his career, and even then the lowest he hit was .290,” Jackson said. “I believe that if he had played on bigger stages, he would have been considered to have the quality of [Roberto] Clement. And as big as Clemente was, he didn’t have the power numbers that Vlad Sr. had.”
Jackson then asked what Vlad Jr.’s batting average was last season. I told him .311.
“I knew one of them was a .311,” Jackson said.
Then we talked again about the night when there were Reggie Bars on the ground of the old stadium, after a shot to the center right, a knuckleball from Wilbur Wood which did not join, much like the one in which Charlie Hough had thrown it away. Game 6 of the 1977 series, the night Reggie hit his three.
I asked him if he knew it was Reggie Bar’s birthday.
“I didn’t know that until I read it somewhere,” he said. “Maybe Twitter.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s father played the first seven full seasons of his remarkable baseball career in Canada with the Montreal Expos. Now his son, playing on what could turn out to be the best team in the American League and possibly the best in baseball when it’s all over, has started his own theatrical career in Canada with the Blue Jays.
With such high expectations for him after the year he had in 2021 (48 home runs, 111 RBI, .311 average), with such high expectations for the Blue Jays, he comes out of the blocks with four homers and eight RBIs in his first six Games. Going into Thursday’s game against the Yankees, he was hitting .391. Then he had this kind of night, against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
“You saw what happened last night,” Reggie said, “the scope of doing what he did and doing it there.”
“People talk about the Reggie Bar,” he said. “Three home runs for the kid. At Yankee Stadium. Maybe it was karma.”
Maybe if this kid played where Reggie played, they’d name a candy bar after him.