Larry Walker: MVP, All Star....Switch Hitter?
Larry Walker's 1997 season was something to behold on any number of levels. After putting up a first half batting line of .398/.496/.741, hitting 25 HR and stealing 19 bags, Walker was named to the NL All Star team as the starter in RF, batting 6th.
|Position||National League||Position||American League|
|2B||Craig Biggio||LF||Brady Anderson|
|DH||Tony Gwynn||SS||Alex Rodriguez|
|LF||Barry Bonds||CF||Ken Griffey, Jr|
|C||Mike Piazza||1B||Tino Martinez|
|1B||Jeff Bagwell||DH||Edgar Martinez|
|RF||Larry Walker||RF||Paul O'Neill|
|3B||Ken Caminiti||3B||Cal Ripken|
|CF||Ray Lankford||C||Ivan Rodriguez|
|SS||Jeff Blauser||2B||Roberto Alomar|
|P||Greg Maddux||P||Randy Johnson|
Walker was the only Rockies' representative at the 1997 All Star Game, and the only other Rockies players who even came CLOSE were Andres Galarraga and Ellis Burks. Walker was a cut above the rest of the Blake Street Bombers that year.
The game itself was somewhat humdrum, with the American League taking the game 3-1. In fact, the NL squad was 3-hit, getting singles from Moises Alou and Jeff Blauser, and the lone tally for the NL came on a Javy Lopez HR off of Jose Rosado of the Royals.
The levity and memorability of this game came in the 2nd inning. After a 1-2-3 inning from Mariners starter Randy Johnson, Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell made quick groundouts to Alomar to bring up Larry Walker.
Walker, a LHB, facing Randy Johnson, a LHP, was not a good matchup for Walker, just given the Left-on-Left nature of the AB. I mean, it's the All-Star Game, so nobody is taking it seriously anyhow (yet).
First pitch from Johnson is, as Drew Goodman puts it, "Theatrically" sailed over Walker's head.
Now, fun as the All Star Game may be, Johnson's arm extended out so far just because of this height that the actual release point of the ball was oftentimes lost from the peripheral vision because of the ear flaps on the batting helmet. So silly exhibition or no, Walker wasn't having any of this left-on-left nonsense.
Calling for Time, Walker, stepped across the plate to the RHB batter's box, flipped his helmet on backwards, and finished the AB against Randy Johnson.
He walked, and was summarily dismissed on a 6-4FC off of the bat of Ken Caminiti.
Walker's next AB against David Cone wasn't that much more exciting, as he grounded out 4-3 to end the 4th inning with Barry Bonds on 3B. Walker was replaced in the bottom of the 5th by Moises Alou.
So while Walker's 1997 ASG moment may not have been the best, it was certainly one of the most memorable, and it really did nothing but add to the marvel that was Walker's 1997 MVP season.