Saturday, March 22, 2008

By Adam Dodge, Senior Writer

It’s rare that a sports event that occurs away from the field of play would make any sort of top “anything” list. The vast majority of the moments highlighted on our list took place on the baseball diamond, because those are the moments that are most celebrated and seldom forgotten by fans.

However, on Jan. 11, 2004, when ESPN Radio affiliate KSPN’s update man Dave Denholm announced that the Anaheim Angels had reached an agreement on a five-year contract with free-agent slugger Vladimir Guerrero, it incited a reaction from fans on par with a postseason series victory.

It had been expected that the Montreal Expos’ four-time All-Star right fielder would sign with the Mets, Dodgers or Orioles. There hadn’t been a whisper that the Angels were even interested in the National League’s best kept secret.

As the story goes, then Angels General Manager Bill Stoneman made a call to Guerrero’s agent, Arn Tellem, to inquire about Rafael Palmeiro.

“How about Vlad?,” the agent responded.

Stoneman, surprised that Guerrero was interested in the Angels, approached Angels owner Arte Moreno with the idea. Three days later, Moreno had a new face for the franchise he’d acquired just eight months earlier..

Though he’d already gained credibility among fans by making other waves during the off-season with the signings of Jose Guillen, Kelvim Escobar and Bartolo Colon, Moreno removed any doubt that he truly meant business with the Guerrero signing.

And what a signing it was. Guerrero won the American League MVP award in 2004, carrying the Angels on his back down the stretch to their first division title in eighteen years. In his four years with the Angels, the quiet superstar has averaged a remarkable .327 batting average, 33 homeruns and 119 RBI per season while the Angels have won three division titles.
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