Monday, February 22, 2016

Canadians In the Majors: Larry Walker

I've been debating for a while if I want to cover more recent players and I came to the conclusion that there are certain players that no discussion of Canadians in the Majors would be complete without.. I'm covering one of those tonight: Larry Walker. 

Larry Walker was born in Maple Ridge BC and spent his youth playing hockey and baseball. 

Here is Maple Ridge 

And Maple Ridge based on where it is to Vancouver. 

He played hockey as a goalie, playing on the same team as Cam Neely. He played baseball on the Canadian National Junior Team when he was discovered by the Montreal Expos and signed in 1984. 


1990 was Walker's first full season. He finished 7th in Rookie of the Year voting that year, tied with teammate Marquis Grissom, and behind teammate Delino DeShields, all behind winner David Justice of the Atlanta Braves.

He improved over his rookie year in 1991 and in 1992, he played in his first All Star game and won his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

The Upper Deck card has Walker, Grissom, and DeShields in the old road blue uniforms.

1993 Upper Deck had teammates cards. Here we have the Rookie Threats from 1990 Upper Deck plus Dennis Martinez. These guys were the nucleus of the team that finished second in 1993. 
1994 everyone but Dennis were members of the team, and we all know how that went. They were in first place until the strike that ended the season. 


I had to include this card simply because of the pinstripe uniform. Well, that and I love these Home Field Advantage cards. This was from Walker's final season as an Expo. 
He played first base most of the 1994 season due to a shoulder injury, but played well enough to have consideration for the MVP vote, though he ended up 11th. 

1995 Walker signed with the Colorado Rockies, continuing to amass numbers heading toward stardom. 
In 1997, he won the MVP award, hitting .366, a league leading 49 homers, and 130 RBIs. He also was an All Star, Gold Glover, and Silver Slugger.

In 1998, he did something that hasn't been done by a Canadian in over 100 years: He won the batting title with a .363 average. Previously to Walker, the last Canadian to win was Tip O'Neill in 1887.

In 1999 he won his second consecutive batting title. 

In 2000 he had elbow problems that cost him most of the season. In 2001 he rebounded, winning his third batting title and getting selected to his final All Star Game. 

In 2004, Walker was traded to the Cardinals for Luis Martinez, Chris Narveson, and Jason Burch. 

2005 was his final season, After retirement, he continued to be involved, becoming a coach for Canada in the World Baseball Classic.. 

All told for his career, he was 

1-time MVP
5-time All Star
7-time Gold Glove winner
3-time Silver Slugger
9-time Tip O'Neill award winner 
1 Lou Marsh Trophy
1 ESPY for Best Baseball Player

Walker is also the leader for players born in Canada for Hits 2160, Doubles 471, Home Runs 383, RBIs 1311, and Stolen Bases 230. 
He was elected to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and Canada's Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.  



  1. When it is all said and done, he should be inducted into Cooperstown too. I think the voters are making too much of the Colorado inflation to his stats.

    1. I agree. Yes he won his three batting titles in Colorado, but looking at his splits, he hit well on the road as well. 1999 and 2001 his average was largely affected, but in 2001 he hit two fewer homers on the road than at home.
      He should be the second Canadian in Cooperstown

    2. And he should be the first Rockie in Cooperstown.

    3. I'd rather see him as an Expo, but he did spend the best years in Colorado...