Maybe Larry Walker is destined to become a baseball player.
Otherwise, why would the god of baseball bless children from Canada with a thunderous bat, base speed, instinct, and an arm that releases lightning from the right field?
On Wednesday, Walker will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. But before he became a Larry legend and the first Rocky Mountain player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Walker just wanted to play hockey.
“As a Canadian, you were born in this world with a stick in your hand and roller skates on your feet,” said Walker, a native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia. “So this is how I was when I was a kid. You played hockey, that’s what really matters.”
At the age of 16, with the dream of becoming an NHL goalkeeper, he was invited to the training camp by Regina Pats of the Junior A Western Hockey League. If he joins the team, scouts will notice. But he was chopped. He was invited back the following year, but failed again.
“When I was eliminated for the second year in a row, I had the opportunity to go to Swift Current,” he recalled. “I drove into the city, parked at the skating rink, looked around, I don’t know why, but I said,’Do you know? This is not for me. I decided not to play hockey.
“We turned around and drove back to our home in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, and it was over. At that time, baseball came knocking on my door. I didn’t knock on its door.”
Walker’s father, Larry Sr., played semi-professional baseball. Walker, his father, and his brothers-Barry, Carey and Gary-often participate in the fastball softball league together. Walker never played baseball at Maple Ridge High School because there was no team there. He played volleyball and hockey in high school.
He learned basic baseball skills in the Canadian Amateur League in Vancouver, roughly equivalent to the American Senior Babe Ruth League.
In the summer of 1984, Walker played for the Coquitlam Redskins in Vancouver, was selected for the Canadian national team, and participated in the 1984 World Youth Championship in Kingsley, Saskatchewan. In November of that year, Walker received a call from Bob Rogers. Bob Rogers was an Expo scout. He signed a minor league contract with Walker with a signing bonus of $1,500.
He spent most of his time with minors from 1985 to 1989, scoring 0.274 with 73 home runs and 258 hits in 437 games.
In 1985, in his first professional season, he scored 0.223 points in two home runs in 62 games during his loan to the non-affiliated Utica Blue Sox of the Pennsylvania League in New York.
“I never saw a fork ball, never saw a slider,” Walker recalled. “I don’t know they exist. I have never really seen a good curveball. In Canada, when we were young, we played 10 games a year, maybe 15 baseball games.”
In 1986, Jeff Huson played Class A with Walker in Burlington, Iowa. The two then became teammates at Triple-A in Indianapolis in 1989, and worked briefly with the World Expo later that season. Hewson was struck by Walker’s talent and his ability to control the game.
“Larry was born, but you can see what a great athlete he is,” said Hewson, who is now a Rocky Mountain analyst for AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain. “I remember they tried out on him at third base, but his arm was so strong that he kept throwing the ball on the first baseman’s head. Sometimes it ended up in the stands. So they put him on. Outfield.”
Walker believes that Ralvro helped him become a hitter in the major leagues. Luo is the head coach of the World Expo organization. During the 1995 season and the following winters, Walker honed his skills when Luo’s men played in the Florida Teaching League.
Once Walker began to understand the nuances of the game, his athleticism began to show.
“When I talked about Larry, I said he was the best athlete I have ever worked with,” said former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton. “I have also played (college) football and played with some great athletes, but this man is omnipotent.
“Of course, he is a golden gloved outfielder with a cannon, but what he does best is running. very impressive.”
Montreal Expo: 1989-1993, 674 games
Colorado Rocky Mountains: 1994-2004, 1,170 games
St. Louis Cardinals: 2004-05, 144 games
Major League debut: August 11, 1989 vs. San Francisco Giants
The last game of the regular season: October 2, 2005 against the Cincinnati Reds
Those who play baseball with Walker or watch his game are often surprised by his skills:
“An amazing talent. People always talk about the term “five-tool player” casually, which they shouldn’t. But I tell people that Larry is not only a five-tool player; he is in all five categories All elites.” — Walt Weiss, former Rocky Mountain player and manager, was Walker’s teammate in Colorado during the 1995-97 season.
“There is no doubt that Larry is a member of the Hall of Fame. I have played with many Hall of Fame members—Andre Dawson, Tim Rains, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza—just In terms of omnipotence, in every part of the game, Larry is my best partner.” —Tim Wallach, Walker’s teammate at the Montreal Expo.
“Larry Walker is a special player who can do all of this. Talk about intuition about the game. Larry Walker is that player-and it’s funny.”-Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, he was born in 1994 Played with Walker in Montreal in 2016.
“People talk about players with five tools, but Larry Walker has a sixth tool: his sense of baseball and expectations. He won the MVP award in 1997, but if he hadn’t played with Barry Bonds at the same time, he might have won three. Four MVP awards. He is the best one-handed player.”-Eric Young, Walker’s Rocky teammate during the 1995-97 season.
“I remember it was an Expo. I always feel comfortable playing against left-handers because I think I can drop a broken ball and stay away from them, and I can position my fastball in their hands. They have a lot of good players in Montreal, but I think Larry is the strongest hitter among them, even though he is left-handed.”-The current Rockies head coach Bud Black, as a San Francisco pitcher, in 1992- Facing Walker in the 94 season.
“For me, I think the most extraordinary statistic will always be his 1997 season, when he won the MVP. He hit 29 of 49 home runs away from home. His home game OPS (1.169) is very good. It’s ridiculous, but his away OPS (1.176) was even higher. It was the former humidor of Coors Field, so he had to break in to win the MVP. But considering what he did on the road, if a writer doesn’t vote It would be embarrassing to give it to him.” — Manny Randhawa, author of “Black Street Bomber”
• National League MVP (1997)
• Five-time National League All-Star selection (1992, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001)
• Won the Golden Glove Award seven times (1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002)
• Three-time Silver Slugger champion (1992, 1997 and 1999)
• Three-time national league batting champion (1998.363; 1999, .379; and 2001, .350)
Home run: 383
Stolen base: 230
Average batting: 0.313
Basic percentage: 0.400
Percentage of heavy hits: 0.565 (15th in history)
OPS: .965 (18th in history)
Professional warfare: 72.7
• Walker is one of only seven players in MLB history with a career slash of at least 0.313/.400/.565. The other six people are in the Hall of Fame (Baby Ruth, Jimmy Fox, Ted Williams, Lou Grieg, Hank Greenberg, Rogers Hornsby).
• Walker and Barry Bonds are the only two players in Major League Baseball history with at least 300 home runs, 200 stolen bases, and an OPS of at least 0.950.
• Walker’s away OPS is 0.865, which is equal to or higher than Hall of Famers Willie Stargell, Ken Griffey Jr., Reggie Jackson, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Gwynn, Al Kaline, George Brett and Roberto Clemente.
• In the history of the Rockies, Walker ranks second in running (892), doubles (297), home runs (258) and RBI (848), second only to Helton. He ranked first in team history with an average batting rate of 0.334, an on-base rate of 0.426 and a heavy hit rate of 0.618.
• First home run: April 20, 1990, and the World Expo. In the second game of Montreal’s 2-1 victory over Shea Stadium, he hit a home run on Ron Darling of the Mets.
• Throwing: On July 4, 1992, at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, Walker hit a single jumper hit by Padres shortstop Tony Fernandez in the right game and threw him at first base.
• First Rocky Mountain home run: On May 7, 1995, he hit Hideo Nomo of the Dodgers at Coors Field.
• In the clutch: In the regular season finals at Coors Field in 1995, the 3-year-old Rockies needed to beat the Giants to get the National League wild card and become the youngest expansion team ever to enter the playoffs. The Rockies defeated an 8-2 disadvantage with a score of 10-9. Walker made four 3-pointers, doubles, home runs and three RBIs. He ended a shortened season of strikes with 101 RBI in 131 games.
• hat trick: On April 5, 1997, Walker returned to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, hit three home runs, and scored five points. Manager Don Belle wanted Walker to hit four home runs, but Walker asked to withdraw from the game so that teammate John Van der Wall could get a shot to stay sharp.
• All-Star Game Prank: On July 8, 1997, at the Cleveland Progressive Stadium (then Jacobs Stadium) in the All-Star Game, Walker hit his best shot against the formidable left-hander Randy Johnson. The two were short-lived teammates at the Expo, but now Johnson is pitching for Seattle and Walker is the star of Colorado. Earlier this season, when Johnson started playing against the Rockies, Walker chose not to play. He explained: “I met Randy in spring training and he almost killed me.”
In the All-Star Game, Johnson dramatically threw the fastball 7 or 8 feet above Walker’s head. So Walker turned his batting helmet, switched sides in the batter’s box, and hit the ball with his right hand. He turned back to the left and started walking.
“I don’t even know if I am allowed to do this,” Walker told the Denver Post at the time. “I look like Colonel Klink there.”
Walker was criticized for avoiding Johnson in his career, but in fact, Walker hit 0.393 against Johnson (11 of 28 shots).
• Home run clothing: On August 18, 1999, in a game against the Braves at Coors Field, the Rockies wore their widely acclaimed futuristic black jersey. But this didn’t bother Walker, he hit two homers-Kevin Millwood’s opposite shot and John Rock’s three-pointer in the first game, and left the field to explode.
• 2004 playoffs: After being traded to St. Louis in August 2004, Walker made the most of his time with the Cardinals. It has been five years since Walker last appeared in the playoffs, but in the first game of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he followed up after the first home run of the third singles Albert Puyos. . He hit another solo homer in the seventh inning.
In the first game of the World Series against Boston, Walker shot 4 of 5 in the third inning homer of Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield and had two doubles. Although the Cardinals were swept in four games, Walker scored 0.357/.438/.929.