Will 10th (and final) Time Be Charm In Larry Walker's Hall of Fame Bid

TheCowboy

By Jack Etkin/Forbes

The players’ strike was finally over. The abomination that had been replacement ball to start spring training in 1995 had happily been condemned to history. It was April, later than usual, but the major leaguers were finally returning.

That was the backdrop to Larry Walker joining the Rockies. They were training in Tucson, Ariz. Media members sat at tables arrayed in a large rectangle in a conference room in the club’s office. General manager Bob Gebhard was at the front of the room with manager Don Baylor. Gebhard announced the Rockies were welcoming two new players, free agents signed in anticipation of the strike ending.

A door opened behind Gebhard. In walked pitcher Bill Swift and right fielder Walker, both in Rockies uniforms. The team was beginning its third season in 1995 and its first in Coors Field. Swift was then 33. He had been a force with the Giants. But he had a balky shoulder now, and his best days were past. He was gritty and competitive and occasionally seemed able to stop time and be his vintage sinker-ball self that first season. But he would pitch a total of 189 1/3 innings for the Rockies before they released him in late August of his third season.

Walker was altogether different. He was 28, entering his prime after playing his first six seasons with the Expos. Walker spent nearly 10 seasons with the Rockies until they traded him to the Cardinals in early August 2004. He finished his career with them in 2005.

Now Walker is hoping for a final leap on the order of last year, a surge that will put him in the Hall of Fame.

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