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February 5, 2013

BP Unfiltered

Guerrero Brothers and Birthdates

by Ben Lindbergh

I stumbled across something strange while researching my article on brothers in baseball last week:

According to our player cards (and every other source of player bio information on the internet), Wilton Guerrero and Vladimir Guerrero were born less than four months apart. But according to many other internet sources of player bio information, Wilton Guerrero is Vladimir Guerrero's older brother. This would seem to present a problem. Human gestation periods being what they are, three-plus months doesn't seem like nearly enough time to give birth to a borderline Hall of Fame baseball player.

There are three possible explanations for what's happening here. Well, maybe more like four, but I'm putting two under the same subheading:

Vladimir Guerrero's mother was even better at making babies than Vlad was at baseball.
This is plausible, because Vlad, who has eight children of his own, comes from a long line of prolific reproducers. Vlad's maternal grandmother had 14 children, and his maternal grandfather, who was clearly trying to maximize his odds of making major leaguers, had 30 children, which is almost Unfiltered-worthy on its own. The Guerrero family tree must be amazing! Still, it seems unlikely that Vlad's mother made babies almost three times as fast as the average woman, or that someone born that many months premature could survive and grow up to swing at so many pitches outside of the strike zone.

Vladimir and Wilton are half-brothers, like the Izturii and Livan and Orlando Hernandez (and other people who are half-brothers).
This is also plausible, because Vlad has at least four half-siblings. But as best as I can tell, Wilton isn't one of them. This 2007 OC Register profile of Vlad's mother says, "Her life changed drastically when two sons — Wilton and Vladimir — broke into the majors in 1996." This 2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer piece suggests that Vlad's mother knew the LA area because Wilton had played there. This 2001 Winnipeg Free Press profile strongly suggests that Wilton and Glad grew up together and that Wilton is one of Vlad's mother's sons. And so on. Vlad's mother might have raised Wilton after someone else brought him into the world, but I haven't come across any mention of an other-mother arrangement.

Wilton's listed birthdate is incorrect.
Vlad's birthdate was originally listed as February 9, 1976, not February 9, 1975. This was publicly revealed to be false in the spring of 2009—Guerrero, like many of his countrymen, claimed to be younger than he was when he signed his first contract. When Vlad was believed to have been born in '76, Wilton's birthdate made sense. Once Guerrero's birthdate was changed, Wilton's started looking like either a miracle or another falsehood. But by that time, Wilton was already out of baseball, so either nobody noticed (very unlikely) or nobody cared about correcting it (almost certainly the actual reason). Or maybe, just maybe, someone else enjoyed the anachronism as much as I did and decided to let it live. Way to go, Wilton, you 38-year-old, you.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

7 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Dan Rozenson

Yes, this was a source of discussion on Wikipedia. I think it was assumed that Wilton's birth date was altered in the fashion typical of Latino players whose age was in question.

Feb 05, 2013 08:55 AM
rating: 0
Dave Holgado

"Izturii." Well done, Ben.

Feb 05, 2013 09:03 AM
rating: 5

So many Guererros. I wonder if their family could be a partial solution to the intermittence problem that plagues wind generation.

Feb 05, 2013 10:35 AM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

We're also talking about a player who corked his bat... so its possible he also lied about his age.


Feb 05, 2013 11:38 AM
rating: -1

Not that the two have anything to do with one another.

Feb 05, 2013 17:01 PM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

Um.. if he corked his bat to make it look like he is a better hitter, it is a reasonable possibility that he might've done other things to cheat. Besides, if his brother lied about/forged his age, that means Wilton was probably aware of the idea and how to do it. So yes, they do have to do with each other.

Feb 05, 2013 20:28 PM
rating: 0

Great read. Gotta agree with Dave, "Izturii" put this over the edge.

As a teenager, Vlad was the only player I cared about. To this day (as a 27 year old) my bedroom is filled with bobbleheads, posters, signed baseballs and starting lineups of the guy - undoubtedly leading to my shameful sex life. This article has brought back the feeling I'd get when looking at a boxscore for his name, or checking my fantasy team to see how far ahead The Impaler has put me this week. And for that, I thank you.

Feb 06, 2013 04:34 AM
rating: 0
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