Friday, October 25, 2013

#95 Larry Walker

About the Front: That is one marvelous dugout shot. I'm sure the players and coaches refer to the apparatus behind Larry Walker as a bat and helmet rack, or something boring like that. But when I look at it, I think "cubby holes". It brings back memories of preschool.

About the Back: How does a guy like Larry Walker go undrafted? Like most Canadian kids, he dreamed of playing hockey, and only dabbled in baseball during summers. But after getting cut from two Junior A hockey teams at age 16, Larry turned his attention to the diamond. He was relatively inexperienced for an 18-year-old when the Expos took a $1500 flyer on him after watching him play for Canada in the 1984 World Youth Championships. That gamble certainly paid off.

Triple Play:

1. Though it's Walker's hitting stats that jump off the page, he also had a cannon for an arm. On July 4, 1992, he threw out Padres' shortstop Tony Fernandez at first base on a hard-hit single to right field.

2. Like many ballplayers, Larry was superstitious, especially concerning the number three. He wore #33 throughout his 17-year career, married his wife Angela at 3:33 PM on November 3 (11 x 3 = 33), always insisted on having a phone number full of threes, and took practice swings in multiples of three before stepping to the plate.

3. His superlatives: seven Gold Gloves, five All-Star selections, three Silver Sluggers, and the 1997 National League MVP award. In 1997, he led the league with 49 home runs, a .452 on-base percentage, .720 slugging, and 409 total bases. His .366 batting average trailed only Tony Gwynn (.372), but Larry did capture three of the next four NL batting crowns. His career slash line of .313/.400/.565 was unquestionably boosted by the thin air of Colorado, where he played his home games for nearly a decade, but his 141 OPS+ indicates that he was still damned good on his own merits.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I remember looking at a price guide in 1993 or so and seeing that Larry Walker's 1990 Score rookie card was worth a few bucks. I was thrilled, right up until I pulled out my stack of cards from that set and saw that I had Greg Walker, not Larry. Thanks a lot, Greg. Now, of course, you can get Larry's rookie card for 45 cents. Sheesh.

Bill James Said: "The Expos cleanup hitter, needs to get to 100 RBI and/or 100 runs to be widely recognized as a star." Check, and check.

On This Date in 1993: October 25. Less than a week before Halloween, legendary actor and horror maven Vincent Price dies of lung cancer at the age of 82.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely one of my favorite cards from the '93 checklist.