Pedro Guerrero

November 13, 2009

Pedro Guerrerro 92

I found another card on the street yesterday, my second in the last week. What is the universe trying to tell me? Now I walk around staring at the ground, looking for more cards. Maybe I’ll quit my job and take up card-scavenging full-time. Maybe then I could figure out what this life is all about. My thinning wiry hair would grow long and unruly, and because of poverty I’d lose the couch-and-beer ten pounds that settled upon me in recent years as I neared forty. Forty! Last night as I walked home from the train, this card in my backpack along with several notebooks from work and my work laptop and some health plan information that baffles and overwhelms me, I kept hearing footsteps behind me, scuttling through the fallen leaves on the sidewalk. But when I finally snuck a look back there was no one. Then I started imagining a scenario in which my ten-year-old self was following me around. Eventually I’d catch a glimpse of him when I looked back, and then I’d ask him why he was here, and he wouldn’t really know but would start asking me about my life, i.e., his future, and I’d frighten and sadden him with a droning report of tedium, uncertainty, frustration, diminishment. I’m always ten, looking at myself with ever-growing disbelief. And I’m the person causing the disbelief, a pale cipher searching for messages in street detritus.

The message lately, judging by the two cards I’ve most recently found, seems to be something about highly accomplished Latin players who seem to have a lower general historical profile than they deserve. First it was long-time effective reliever Roberto Hernandez. Now it’s Pedro Guerrero. Judging by the statistic of OPS+, which in adjusting for historical context is the most accurate single measure of a player’s relative worth as a hitter, Pedro Guerrero was a more potent offensive force throughout his career than, among many others, George Brett, Al Simmons, Ken Griffey, Jr., David Ortiz, and Joe Morgan. He didn’t stick around long enough to rack up Hall of Fame-caliber career counting stats such as home runs and hits, and he also had an iron glove at all of the many fielding positions where teams tried to hide him. But he could hit like few have.

I don’t know how this could relate to my own life, but I do know that in the moments after I find a card on the ground I feel lucky. It’s a buzzing feeling in my head and limbs, like I just connected with a pitch. Yesterday I had been rushing to catch the bus up Western to start my long commute to work, but with the card the moment opened up a little. I started looking everywhere for more treasures where before I hadn’t really been looking at anything. I hadn’t been listening. I hadn’t been anything. For a second I could see. Next time I hear footsteps behind me, I’ll try to remember this feeling.


  1. Guerrero was a much better hitter than he’s remembered to be. In many ways he was on the wrong teams at the wrong time playing the wrong position. He played in a pitcher’s park during the early-mid 80’s, then in a neutral park with a turf field during the late 80’s-early 90’s. He was a terrible fielder who probably should have been a DH in the American League. He seemed kind of fragile as well seeing that he retired at 36.

    He was traded for John Tudor at the end of 1988. A trade that was pretty good for the Cardinals. Tudor meanwhile did absolutely nothing for the ’88 Dodgers and received a WS ring for it.

    I was looking at this card and since it’s a 92 card, the picture must have been taken in 1991 on a grass field. It’s not Wrigley because their visitor’s dugouts are on the opposite side and it’s not Shea so it’s either at SF, Atl, LA or SD. My guess would be Candlestick.

    91 is also the last season the Cardinals wore those sans-a-belt pants with the pull-over tops. They would switch to the more traditional button-up uniform with a belt look in 1992 that they still wear.

    This is also the last year of the grey vistors pull-over uniform they wore between 1985-1991. Basically the uniform they’re wearing when Denkinger blew the ’85 call and when Herzog and Andujar lost their minds and lost game 7. And the same uniform that Frank Viola held them to only 2 runs in 1987.

  2. Great post — love the image of you being tailed by your 10-year-old self!

  3. Maybe your ten-year old self would be astonished and somewhat proud to find out how much intelligent entertainment you’ve provided to strangers , some even older and more diminished as well as hundreds of miles from your desk.

  4. When I was ten years old, I already knew enough to not be in any hurry to get older. I was smart then, at least.

    Didn’t Guerrero beat an arrest because he was labeled as being a bit goofy between the ears?

  5. doryadams: Hey, Dory! Great to hear from you.

    sthek: Thanks for the good words.

    sb1902: From wikipedia: “In September, 1999, Guerrero was arrested for trying to buy 33 pounds of cocaine from an undercover agent. In June, 2002, he was acquitted of drug conspiracy charges after his attorney argued his low IQ prevented him from understanding that he had agreed to a drug deal.”

  6. After hearing the 911 call of OJ looking for his girlfriend, I can’t see this card without thinking “she was up all night doing drugs with Pay-dro Goo-reyr-oh”

  7. Dude, I wish I found as many baseball cards as you do man on a yearly basis! And I agree with you about the health care plan stuff; it just baffles me too. It is an interesting idea to think about meeting up with our ten year old selves. On one hand, I could tell him about the great times to be had, and the incredible moments with great friends, and then on the other hand, I would feel bad about telling him about the drinking and the fearful moments that come with those, or the heartbreaks and disappointment with what I thought the world would be, and what it has turned out to be. It would be hard to see my ten year old self with all of that endless optimism and tell him that slowly and surely, it will all disintegrate into pessimism no matter how much effort went into it. My ten year old self would be afraid of my present self and think I was a dick.

  8. “it’s a buzzing feeling in my head and limbs, like i just connected with a pitch.”

    simply beautiful.

  9. OK, finding cards on the street is a bit unusual. But I once had one suddenly appear out of nowhere *inside my house*.


    That was freaky.

  10. Being followed and judged by one’s 10-year old self sounds like the autobiography written by Anthony Quinn . . . The Original Sin. As he makes his way through life he is shadowed by himself as a boy, and he fears that the innocent boy is constantly judging him and his decisions he makes, even though the boy says very little to him. He is really battling his poor upbringing with the posh and stuffy Hollywood set. Also, Quinn lost his first child who drowned in W. C. Fields’s pool. Field was a neighbor and close friend of his. In Quinn’s second biographical work, One Man Tango, he again is followed by his childlike self and the interplay is revisited, now that Quinn in finishing out his final years. Both are great reads, and are cited in my books. Well done Josh. Interesting reading. Cheers, ~ C

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