Hall of a Player
Todd Walker debuts on BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot
Todd Walker has already been honored by the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Now, Walker has a shot at the ultimate Hall.
Walker is one of 37 players on the 2013 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the Class of 2013 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Walker is making his debut on the ballot.
BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 9. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 28 in Cooperstown.
Born May 25, 1973, in Bakersfield, Calif., Walker was a standout high school player who opted to play college baseball for Louisiana State University after being taken in the 51st round in the 1991 MLB Draft by the Rangers. Three years later, Walker was drafted by the Twins with the No. 8 overall pick in the MLB Draft.
In his three years at LSU, Walker was named first-time All-American twice (1993-94) and led the Tigers to the College World Series title in 1993. He finished his career as the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leader in hits, runs, RBI and total bases. He was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009, and Baseball America named him the greatest college second baseman of all time.
Walker blitzed through the minor leagues, establishing himself as one of the best second base prospects in the game after hitting .339 with 28 homers and 111 RBI at Triple-A Salt Lake City in 1996. He made his big league debut that year as a late-season call-up, and – after struggling at the big league level in 1997 – took over the Twins’ second base job from All-Star Chuck Knoblauch in 1998, hitting .316 with 12 homers, 62 RBI and 19 stolen bases.
“I hit a buck-something,” said Walker of his 1997 season, when he actually hit .237 in 156 at-bats. “I think I was trying too hard. But I think the reason I’ve had so much success (in 1998) was I’ve tried to be a base-hit guy first, and then the home runs would come.”
After another season-and-a-half in Minnesota, Walker was traded to the Colorado Rockies midway through the 2000 season. He re-discovered his swing in Colorado, then was traded to the Reds in a deadline deal in 2001 – finishing the ’01 campaign with 17 homers, 75 RBI and a .296 batting average.
Walker hit .299 with 11 homers and 64 RBI for the Reds in 2002, then was dealt to the Red Sox prior to the 2003 season. With Boston, Walker hit .283 with 13 home runs and 85 RBI and added five home runs in 12 postseason games stretched across the Division Series and the American League Championship Series.
“I’m a 6-foot, 180-pound guy dripping wet, so how can I do that?” Walker said during the 2003 ALCS. “I can’t explain the home runs, but I’m trying to hit the ball hard and I’m trying to square it up as much as I can.”
Walker signed a free agent deal with the Cubs prior to the 2004 season, and spent three seasons in Chicago before wrapping up his career with stints with the Padres and the A’s. He retired following the 2007 season with a .289 career batting average with 107 home runs and 545 RBI.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum