After a distinguished career, Larry Walker was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2020, receiving 76.6 percent of votes to join Derek Jeter in that year's class. It took until his final year of BBWAA ballot eligibility for his greatness to be rewarded, accomplished mostly with the Rockies but with stellar play for the Expos and the Cardinals at either end of his career, but now his career lives forever in Cooperstown.
As Walker celebrates a birthday, let’s look back at a career full of great feats and much flair. Here is a top 10 list to savor.
1. He taketh away: July 4, 1992, Expos at Padres
The Padres’ Tony Fernández had what he thought was a line-drive single to right. The call by Padres broadcaster Ted Leitner was classic: “Base hit … I take it back.” Walker erased plenty of pitchers this way. But an All-Star infielder?
2. He made us laugh as well as cheer: April 4, 1994, Expos at Dodgers; July 8, 1997, All-Star Game
Walker was always quick with the quip and smile off the field, and as he showed on a couple of occasions, he could laugh at himself during competition. Forget how many outs? Go into self-preservation mode with intimidating future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson on the mound in an All-Star Game? Walker could have a good time, either way.
3. Special man, special place: April 26, 1995, Mets vs. Rockies
While with the Expos in 1993 and ’94, Walker became swept up in the mania at Mile High Stadium, and told his agent that he would love to sign with the Rockies when he became a free agent in ’95. In his first Rockies game, which also was the Coors Field opener, he doubled three times. His last two-bagger tied the game in the ninth and, eventually, set up Dante Bichette’s 14th-inning walk-off homer.
4. When it counted: Oct. 1, 1995, Giants vs. Rockies
Some voters at times fell back on docking Walker for not playing in enough big games. But in the 1995 regular-season finale, the 3-year-old Rockies needed to beat the Giants to earn the National League Wild Card and become the youngest expansion franchise at the time to make the postseason. His bat was key to overcoming an early 8-2 deficit in the 10-9 win. Walker went 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, a homer and three RBIs -- to bring his total to 101 in 131 games during a labor strife-shortened season.
5. A hat trick in Montreal: April 5, 1997, Rockies at Expos
By the time of his third homer, Walker's old fans at Olympic Stadium were cheering him. Manager Don Baylor wanted him to go for four, but Walker asked to come out of the game so teammate John Vander Wal could get an at-bat to stay sharp.
6. Validation: Sept. 26, 1997, Dodgers vs. Rockies
Sometimes, folks just have to recognize greatness. Walker flirted with .400 for a good portion of the year, made the final of the Home Run Derby before falling to Tino Martinez and finished so strong -- .366/.452/.720 with 49 home runs and 130 RBIs -- that writers couldn’t deny him the NL Most Valuable Player Award. No Rockies player won before or has won since.
7. Outer space and outta here: Aug. 18, 1999, Braves vs. Rockies
Remember the widely panned futuristic uniform experiment? Walker's two homers -- an opposite-field shot off Kevin Millwood in the first inning, a three-run walk-off blast against John Rocker -- somehow made the black jersey a classic look.
8. Winning with the arm: April 2, 2001, Cardinals vs. Rockies
The Rockies’ signing of Mike Hampton to (at the time) the largest contract for an MLB pitcher turned out to be a brief and forgettable chapter in club history. But it sure started exciting, thanks in big part to Walker’s arm. In the first inning, Fernando Viña attempted to score from third on a Mark McGwire fly ball, but Walker executed an on-the-fly strike to home plate for Brent Mayne’s tag. Walker’s two-run homer in the eighth capped an 8-0 victory.
9. He’s still got it: June 25, 2004, Rockies at Indians
The Rockies were struggling and wanting to go young. Multiple trade possibilities had fallen through, but a deal was inevitable. As if sending a message that his new team would be getting someone special, Walker went off in Cleveland by going 3-for-4 with three homers, including the go-ahead shot in the 10th inning of a 10-8 win.
10. Pleasing the people in red: 2004 stint with Cardinals
Walker debuted with the Cardinals on Aug. 7, 2004, in such a St. Louis way. Fans gave him a lengthy standing ovation before his pinch-hit at-bat against the Mets’ Kris Benson. Amid calls of “Larry! Larry! Larry!” Walker struck out. But man did he give them much to cheer. He cracked 11 home runs in 44 games, and six in the postseason before the Cards fell to the Red Sox in the World Series. Walker had retired by the time the Cards won the '06 Fall Classic, but the organization showed such respect that it granted him a World Series ring.