Larry WalkerLarry Kenneth Robert Walker
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2020
Primary team: Colorado Rockies
Primary position: Right Fielder
Larry Walker grew up with sticks, skates and pads as a hockey hopeful.
His sports destiny, however, landed him on the baseball diamond – and with a permanent place in the game’s storied history.
Born Dec.1, 1966, in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Walker followed the path of thousands of other Canadian athletes into the junior hockey ranks. His brother, Carey, was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, and Larry had visions a National Hockey League career like the one of Cam Neely, a future Boston Bruin who was Walker’s teammate in junior hockey.
However, Walker was relegated to duty as a third-string goalie before being cut at age 17.
“It’s a game I miss,” Walker said of hockey. “I grew up playing it.”
But Walker proved a fast learner once he switched to baseball. Though there are few high school baseball teams in Canada due to the short spring season, Walker played on regional teams and was eventually signed by the Montreal Expos in 1984 as an undrafted free agent.
From there, Walker was on the fast track to success. After finishing seventh in the 1990 National League Rookie of the Year voting, Walker harnessed his five-tool talent with a work ethic born on the frozen ponds of his home country. He made his first All-Star team in 1992 and also won his first Gold Glove Award that same year, then led the Expos to a 74-40 record in 1994 before the strike ended the season.
The next year, Walker joined the Rockies as a free agent and began a nine-year stretch that saw him develop into one of the game’s most complete players.
Between 1995 and 2003, Walker won one home run title (49 in 1997), three batting titles (1998, 1999, 2001), five Gold Glove Awards in right field and the 1997 NL MVP Award. That year, in addition to his league-best 49 home runs, he posted 130 RBI, a .366 average and 33 stolen bases. His 409 total bases that year is the 18th-best total in big league history.
“He’s the most talented player I’ve ever had,” said former manager Don Baylor. “He never misses the cutoff man, he never throws to the wrong base; he has speed, power and intelligence. All you have to do is write his name down in the lineup and he’ll take care of the rest.”
Walker, who battled injuries for his entire career, was traded to the Cardinals in 2004 and retired after the following season. His final numbers: a .313 career batting average, 383 home runs, 1,311 RBI, 230 stolen bases and seven Gold Glove Awards.
His career slugging percentage of .565 ranks 12th all-time, and his career OPS of .965 ranks 15th.
Year Inducted: 2020
Primary Team: Colorado Rockies
Position Played: Right Fielder
Birth place: Maple Ridge. Canada
Birth year: 1966
Montreal Expos (1989-1994)
Colorado Rockies (1995-2004)
St. Louis Cardinals (2004-2005)
|CAREER AT A GLANCE|
On Base %OBP