“It’s not a bad ball if I can hit it,” Roberto Clemente’s famous retort to disapproving members of the baseball press that questioned his tendency to swing at everything. Well, Vladimir Guerrero also lived by that adage in the batter’s box. He even made it habit to hit balls in play from pitches thrown comically out of the strike zone – some even bounced off the plate before reaching Guerrero’s ubiquitous bat.
The point is, Vlad was good. Really good. He amassed a .318 career batting average while swinging at everything, eventually blooping and bashing his way into the Hall of Fame in 2018. But despite his skill on the field and a recent Hall of Fame nod, the best “bad ball” hitter in the game has just two rookie cards to his name. If there are only two cards to chase in the set, and the total will only amount to a few hundred bucks for PSA GEM-MT 10s, sign me up.
As the most modern addition to this ongoing column, the Set Registry Starter Kit sets its sights on Vladimir Guerrero’s two-card rookie set.
1995 Bowman #90
- PSA population: 628 PSA GEM-MT 10
- Average cost for PSA 10: $106
Let’s start with the more affordable of Vlad’s two rookies, his Bowman offering. Featuring an interesting design, which juxtaposes the young slugger in his batting stance with a blurred mirror image on the left side of the card, this white-bordered issue is less fickle in the grading room when compared to its condition-sensitive, reflective neighbor in the set. If we’re gauging by value alone, the latter card is his favorite among collectors. But, with over 5,000 examples graded by PSA, this card is no slouch. And at just over $100 in PSA 10, it’s a steal, too.
Some collectors love the classic feel of the Bowman option.
Other collectors dig the contrast of the white borders with red Bowman logo.
Love the paper Bowman for a few reasons including the white border and red foil Bowman logo. Also, the surface is not as susceptible to scuffs and scratches. One of my favorite cards of the 90’s!
— EMPIRE Breaks (@EMPIREbreaks) March 14, 2019
1995 Bowman’s Best #B2
- PSA population: 361 PSA GEM-MT 10
- Average cost for PSA 10: $354
I know, I know. It took us a while to get here, but we’ve finally arrived at Vlad’s last and most popular rookie card, 1995 Bowman’s Best. For this issue, Bowman decided to separate veterans and rookies by design layout, where the fresh crop of young talent got a blue swath in the background and crafty vets received a red swath. The five-tool player is seen here striking the exact same batting pose as his Bowman issue, but his portrait gets a boost with added visual flair, including the aforementioned reflective blue swath. Speaking of the reflective background, nicks and wear along the edges can impact the grade. Centering can also be tricky with this issue.
The classic minimalism of the Bowman card is a selling point for some collectors, but it’s the modern flair of the Bowman’s Best offering that lures others.
Have to go with Bowman’s Best. Love the foil look and blue. Plus, I have one graded. ? pic.twitter.com/uraafZXplM
— Shawn Gillispie (@Sgillispiewv) March 14, 2019
Though the PSA Set Registry only requires the aforementioned two rookie cards for his rookie set, a third more rare and valuable card does exist. Vlad’s Bowman’s Best rookie also comes in a tough-to-track-down refractor variant, which is worth considerably more than the non-refractors.
Guerrero was, perhaps, the best “bad ball” hitter the game has ever seen. And, lucky for you, such a difference maker on the field has only two recognized rookie cards to his name. Considering his recent Hall of Fame nod, and the fact his progeny is set to take the game by storm very soon, you can do worse than by pursuing this two-card set. At a cost of just around $360 for the set in PSA 10, it’s hard to argue with that. Start your set today on the PSA Set Registry.Start Your Set Today