Rockies Reporter: Walker Had Given Up On Hall Of Fame

There was a time when Larry Walker didn't think the Hall of Fame was possible; those days, clearly, are long gone

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
January 22, 2020 - 10:19 am
Larry Walker Rockies

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Larry Walker was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. It was his tenth and final year on the ballot, and he surpassed the 75-percent threshold by a razor-thin margin: six votes. 

Out of 397.

“It was a very emotional reaction,” MLB.com Rockies reporter Thomas Harding said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “His case kind of tells me, or at least kind of justifies, waiting a while after you retire and then taking a new look at this. I was talking to him during what was a great career and I once brought up the idea of the Hall of Fame. And he looked at me with that low voice and that sense of humor, he gives that wry smile and says, ‘Thomas, the only way I’m getting into the Hall of Fame is if I have a ticket.’”

Walker was a five-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner and the 1997 NL MVP. He was better at home than on the road, but he was still pretty good on the road.

“There was all the controversy about playing at Coors Field. How much did that help the numbers?” Harding said. “But then over the years the new sabermetrics stats have taken a new look at his career, and if you look at the value that he had out there on the field, he was as valuable as very few players in the history of the game. . . . [People realized], ‘Just because he played in Colorado, we can’t penalize him.’ You look at the numbers in Denver, and yeah, those were astronomical. But then he went on the road, which is very hard to do, and did quite well.”

Especially for someone playing home games in Colorado.

“The issue with Denver is the ball breaks totally different, so your first day or so on the road, it’s a big adjustment,” Harding explained. “Larry Walker handled that like very few people all-time. Then you throw in the defense, the way he would trick players into running or not running – and all those things just add up to a guy that in real time you thought was one of the best players in the game. Now he lives forever in Cooperstown.”

Harding said that Walker had given up on getting into the Hall. 

“For a while there, yes,” Harding said. “But then the last few years, you saw the vote totals increase. Another thing that helped Walker was the ballot has been crowded for years. This year, with two guys going in, I think it was the perfect storm to give Walker what he deserved.”