#Shortstops: Sponge soaks Walker in glory
“Hello, Larry,” the bespectacled man begins, “It’s Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants. Congratulations, and I’ve gotta say, it was a real thrill to be a part of your Hall of Fame phone call moment.”
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Kenny’s voice rises higher, taking on the distinctly nasally sound of the famous Nickelodeon cartoon, “And just between you and me, I have a lucky shirt too!” Kenny unzips his hoodie to reveal a Colorado Rockies T-shirt, and laughs in SpongeBob’s characteristic way.
So, how exactly did Kenny, and his iconic undersea character, come to be part of the day that Larry Walker made it to Cooperstown? To understand that piece of the story, one need only look at the video.
Surrounded by friends and family in the backyard of his Florida home on the day of the 2020 Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame election, Walker answered BBWAA secretary Jack O’Connell’s phone call – which he mused to O’Connell must be his “favorite call of the year…it sure is mine” – wearing a black and yellow SpongeBob SquarePants shirt.
Later that afternoon, in an interview with MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger, Walker still had it on.
The next day, Larry Walker took the stage for the first time as a Hall of Famer at a press conference in New York City, and even his Class of 2020 classmate Derek Jeter couldn’t resist joking about Walker’s attire.
“This is way better than that SpongeBob shirt I wore yesterday,” Walker quipped as he and Jeter settled on stage in front of the media, both dressed in the Hall of Fame’s distinctive cream, red and blue jerseys.
“No, it’s really not,” Jeter joked.
The shirt is now on display at the Hall of Fame in the Museum’s Today’s Game exhibit, in all its cartoon glory.
SpongeBob may be no ordinary sponge, but Larry Walker is certainly no ordinary Hall of Famer.
Isabelle Minasian is the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum