Less than 24 hours after being inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in his tenth and final year of eligibility, former Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker (along with first-ballot Hall of Famers Derek Jeter) spoke to the media in a press conference in New York City today.
About 24 hours after predicting that he would not be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, former Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker was a part of the Hall of Fame’s press conference for him and Derek Jeter as they were the two inductees off of the BBWAA’s ballot for the class of 2020. Walker was elected by just six more votes than the minimum needed for election (76.6 percent).
After the press conference, he spoke to some of the media in more depth and he discussed the whirlwind of a 24 hours that he had.
One of the things that he spoke upon was the outpouring of adulation that he received from hundreds of people via text, phone call, and voicemail.
"“…[T]here’s a lot [of texts and voicemails] that I haven’t looked at,” said Walker to reporters as well as the Rockies PR team. “I’ve only looked at a handful [of the messages]. [Hall of Famer] Trevor Hoffman was on there and [Hall of Famer Alan] Trammell…just [hearing from] one or two [people] was amazing and yet, I’ve still got 270-something that I haven’t read.”"
With his election, he was also asked about the “Coors Field factor” and playing at altitude. Walker said that he really didn’t know much about it.
"“…[B]eing as honest as I can be, which I usually am, I didn’t know about it, really,” said Walker. “I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on sometimes. I felt so good up at the plate and then we’d go on the road and, all of a sudden, I struggled. It was a mystery for a few years on how to fix it and I don’t even know if I did. It was just a different game so that’s a big struggle for people right now…[Now], I get it. Coors Field is a great place to hit. There’s no backing away from that but I believe, with that, I did it better than anybody else at that ballpark so that had to be some consideration on some of [my] success.”"
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He was also asked on whether or not he believes that his election will help former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton be inducted in the near future.
"“It’s definitely not going to hurt,” said Walker. “Todd played his entire career there, which is a pretty cool thing to [wear] the same uniform [throughout your career], like Derek [Jeter] did so I think it will help out a lot of things with the Rockies: MVP voting, Hall of Fame…”"
During the interview that Walker had on MLB Network in the ensuing minutes after the announcement, many people noticed that he was wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants NASCAR shirt and Walker was asked why did he wear it.
"“I have no idea,” said Walker, who started chuckling. “I just walked into my closet and I knew we were going to go sit outside and hang out up front so I just wanted something [that was] a little warmer so it was a little warmer. I got a few looks from my kids–‘are you really going to wear that?”–and then I got a message today: “Way to go, Dad! Good choice on the SpongeBob [shirt], you’re trending [on social media].”"
Walker, of course, will be inducted with Derek Jeter in July and while they were never teammates and never even played in the same league, Walker does have a fond memory with Jeter and another celebrity that did not involve baseball.
"“There was one time in the Bahamas, playing blackjack, that [he and I] sat down for a little while with Matt Damon, and we sat there and played for a little while,” said Walker."
In a few months, both Walker and Jeter will have something that will intertwine the two, who could not be more different on the field and in how they reached the Hall of Fame…and it won’t be a game blackjack.