Today we wrap up the first ever Purple Row Larry Walker Week. The goal was to raise awareness and appreciation for perhaps the greatest player to wear a Rockies uniform and to push his case for Hall of Fame induction. After wishing him “Happy Birthday,” we compared him to other notable Hall-of-Fame-caliber outfielders. We reviewed his 1997 MVP season and explored an alternate timeline in which he was already inducted into the Hall of Fame. We also discussed his Hall-of-Fame worthy personality and made the definitive case for his Hall of Fame induction.
But there are, understandably, a few things still missing if we’re going to properly tell the story of Larry Walker. There are other things that were mentioned but must be further emphasized. In honor or his fascination with the number three, here are 33 reasons to love Larry Walker.
1. Jay Jaffe’s JAWS metric attempts to measure how a Hall of Fame candidate measures up with current Hall of Famers at his position. Larry Walker’s career WAR, peak WAR, and JAWS score all show is he worthy of enshrinement. Unfortunately, last year, his seventh on the ballot, he accrued just 21.7% of votes, well short of the 75% required. That is why Larry Walker Week exists (and may, be forced to continue for another two years).
2. The biggest knock against Larry Walker is that he didn't play enough. Between injuries both minor and season threatening, he logged only an average of 124 games per season (if you remove his 20 game cup-of-coffee in 1989). If he played just 10 more games per season, that would be the equivalent of an entire extra season, in which case he’d likely have had the numbers to put him in the Hall of Fame already. And yet he still has a better rWAR, and JAWS score than the average Hall of Fame right fielder.
3. Larry is rightly remembered for facing Randy Johnson in the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland, but did you know he also finished second in the Home Run Derby that year? Of course, he hit three more home runs overall than champion Tino Martinez, but lost to Martinez in the finals 3-1.
4. Not only was he a five-time All-Star, he was also a four-time starter.
5. There is an entire generation of baseball fans from the Denver area who know Ozzy Osbourne not because he bit the head off of a bat but because of the song that played when Larry Walker went up to bat.
6. Larry Walker was born in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. That makes him Canadian. And everyone knows Canadians are awesome. Seriously, if you’ve ever met a bad Canadian, check their passport. And birth certificate, just in case.
7. The only Canadian in the Baseball Hall of Fame is Ferguson Jenkins. He was inducted in 1991. The Anti-Canadian bias has gone on for far too long. Larry needs to be in.
8. He also was developed by Canada’s first Major League Baseball team, the now defunct* Montreal Expos. So that’s pretty cool.
9. These next few come courtesy of Hot Stove Stats on twitter. The most impressive:
There have been 19,180 players to play Major League Baseball.— Hot Stove Stats (@HotStoveStats) November 22, 2017
Just one of them has 350 HR, 200 SB, .300 BA, and .400 OBP in their career.
His name is Larry Walker. #WalkerHOF
10. Larry Walker was no slouch against the top competition of his day, either. According to Hot Stove Stats, he hit .305/.378/.449 against Hall of Famers Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Randy Johnson. Maybe he didn’t need to sit out against Johnson.
11. During his three year peak from 1997 to 1999, Larry Walker led baseball with a .451 on-base percentage.
12. Another fun feature on Baseball-Reference player pages is the Black Ink. These bolded numbers appear on a player’s statistical record to designate when he led the league in that category. Larry led the league in a category 12 times in his career.
13. Walker was also an exceptional defender, posting 97 Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average, according to Baseball-Reference, and 150 outfield assists, the 15th most all time by a right fielder and finishing in the Top 3 in the league in seven seasons.
14. He’s part of one-half of the greatest jersey combination in Denver—nay, American history.
15. Larry Walker holds 15 single-season Rockies records. 14 of those come from his MVP campaign in 1997; the other comes from 1999, when he led all of baseball withe a .379 batting average.
16. Walker also hold eight career records for the Rockies (including, amusingly, hit by pitch with 98). If you take out Todd Helton’s 17-year Rockies career, that number would rise to 29 Rockies career records.
17. People seem to forget how good of a base runner Walker was—and it’s not just conjecture. Tony Gwynn is on record of saying he’s the “best baserunner in the game.”
18. Walker is second in Rockies history with 126 stolen bases and a career 75.5% success rate. He was particularly adept at taking the extra base: his 52% extra-bases taken rate is well above the league average 40%. In 1997, he took the extra base 70% of the time!
19. His Twitter handle is @Cdnmooselips33, a handle that would make many a AOL user proud.
20. He once rolled into spring training on a motorcycle. That picture proves he was cooler than even your coolest friend in 1993.
21. It’s no secret grew up wanting to play hockey. In fact, he played with future Hockey Hall of Famer Cam Neely. We need to make sure he’s not the only one of that friend group to end up in a Hall of Fame.
22. Larry’s older brother Carey was drafted by the Montreal Canadians in 1977 as a goalie. One may wonder if Larry would’ve wanted to trade places with Carey at some point, but baseball seems to have worked out pretty well for him.
23. He knows how to attend a baseball game in style.
Larry Walker in a Led Zeppelin jersey? Larry Walker in a Led Zeppelin jersey: pic.twitter.com/fi295nKuV5— Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) April 26, 2015
24. Larry’s Rockies career came to an end on August 6, 2004. On that day he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.
25. The Rockies got swindled in the deal, fetching Jason Burch, Luis Martinez, and Chris Narveson in return. They also reportedly picked up $9 million of his salary. Why? Because the Rockies wanted to give him a chance at a World Series title.
26. In the press conference announcing the trade, Walker was choked up saying goodbye to the franchise he’d helped build over the past 10 years. There can be little doubt that he’d go into the Hall of Fame as a Rockie.
27. He joined a Cardinals team that included an in-his-prime Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds and went on to get swept by the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. At least he got his shot.
28. Don’t pin that loss on Larry, though. He went 5-for-14 with two doubles and two home runs in those four World Series games.
29. He played in just 100 games in his final season (he still contributed 2.4 WAR, seventh most on the team) and the 100-win Cardinals came two games short of making it back to the World Series.
28. Larry announced his retirement after the Cardinals were eliminated by the Houston Astros in the NLCS. He struck out looking in his final at-bat; “I can’t believe I did that,” he said.
29. Walker has coached Team Canada for the past five years, including the 2015 PanAm Games and two World Baseball Classics.
30. He’s not afraid to bust a move to appease a crowd.
Fans at Canada-Puerto Rico game are chanting "Larry Walker". So he moon-walked to appease them. @Cdnmooselips33— Jamie Campbell (@SNETCampbell) July 17, 2015
31) He was on the coaching staff that led Canada to it’s first ever PanAm Gold Medal by defeating Team USA 7-6 in extra innings (in a game that Jeff Francis pitched in!). Walker was excited.
32) During the 2013 World Baseball Classic, a brawl broke out between Teams Mexico and Canada.
Canadian first base coach Larry Walker, a former NL MVP, said he held back Mexico star Adrian Gonzalez during the altercation. The solidly built Walker also tried to restrain Aceves.
"I had a hold of him and I thought I saw Satan in his eyes," Walker said.
33) One of the fun features on Baseball-Reference.com is that every player that has a nickname has it listed at the top of his page, from the Great Bambino, to Kung Fu Panda, to Death to Flying Things, to the Sheriff of Swattingham. Larry Walker's listed nickname is booger. Perhaps the greatest player in Rockies history has a nickname that second graders use as an insult on the playground. I really want to see that on a Cooperstown plaque.
Larry Walker is a humble man. In an interview with Tracy Ringolsby in March, he had this to say about the Hall of Fame. “Jim Bronner reached out about the Hall of Fame, and how I should get involved and promote myself. I just said, "No, no, no," to everything. That's not me.”
If you won’t do it, Larry, allow us to do it for you.