"I had the numbers in my head and was prepared for no call and then the opposite happened," he says about Cooperstown induction.
Larry Walker really didn’t think he was going to get voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
About four hours before the official announcement came that the former Expos outfielder had been voted into the Hall of Fame, along with former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Walker sent out this tweet:
“Although I believe I’m going to come up a little short today I still wanna thank all you that have been pulling for me and showing your support. I’m grateful for all of you! It’s been fun leading up to today reading everyone’s thoughts. Cheers.”
Perry Giannis, who runs the ExposFest fan group and organized a gathering of about 100 people at Taverne 1909 signé St-Hubert at Laval’s Place Bell to watch the Hall of Fame announcement show on TV, wasn’t sure Walker would get in, either.
“It’s either a party or a wake,” Giannis said about 30 minutes before the Hall of Fame announcement was made. “So we’re hoping for the party.”
They got one and the Expos fans celebrated wildly even though Walker will certainly go into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., wearing a Colorado Rockies cap.
“I didn’t think it would happen and I actually truly meant that,” Walker said during an MLB Network interview after learning he was headed to Cooperstown. “I had the numbers in my head and was prepared for no call and then the opposite happened and that call comes and all of a sudden you can’t breathe.”
Walker, 53, grew up in Maple Ridge, B.C., dreaming about becoming an NHL goalie. When he realized that wasn’t going to happen, he started to focus on baseball at age 17.
“This moment right here would never enter my mind as a kid growing up,” Walker said on the MLB network in his first interview as a Hall of Famer. “Of course, being Canadian you’re born into this world with a stick in your hand and skates on your feet. That’s how I was as a kid. You played hockey and that’s all that really mattered. When hockey didn’t quite go the way I wanted, baseball more or less found me is a story I’ve always told.
“I didn’t work hard at baseball at the beginning until I realized I had a little bit of ability at it,” he added. “So once I figured that out, watching a lot of people play, learning from their mistakes, learning from their successes and listening to my coaches and fellow teammates led me to this moment here — and here we are.”
Walker became a five-tool player, meaning he could hit for average, hit for power, field, throw and run. He was asked during the MLB Network interview which of the five tools was his best.
“I’ve been asked that question before and it’s a tough one because I literally had to learn everything in the minor leagues,” he said. “I didn’t really play baseball growing up. Didn’t have high-school baseball, so that didn’t exist. It was 15 games of hardball a summer and I played on a fast-pitch team with my dad and my brothers with a softball. That was what I looked forward to all the time.
“I had to figure everything out,” he added. “I didn’t have quite the start as American kids might have. So it took a little bit of work, but I enjoyed it, had fun and I was a quick learner.”
He certainly was.
Now, he’s a Hall of Famer.