The only Colorado Rockies player to have his number retired by the organization is the long-time face of the franchise first baseman Todd Helton. This weekend, that changes as recent MLB Hall of Fame inductee Larry Walker has his number 33 retired next to Helton’s 17.
One of the most talented and underrated players to play the game, Walker finally received his long-awaited call to the Hall of Fame in an emotional final year on the ballot. In response, the Colorado Rockies announced they would retire Walker’s number.
The Colorado Rockies will retire Larry Walker’s #33 on Saturday against the San Francisco Giants.
Though his career was hampered by injuries, Walker ranked among impressive company in several key statistics. His five-tool talent was on full display when he won the 1997 NL MVP with a .366 batting average, an NL-best 49 home runs, 130 RBI’s, 46 doubles, 33 stolen bases, and a league leading 1.172 OPS and 409 total bases.
After being named the ’97 MVP, Walker went on to win three batting titles in the next four seasons, hitting .363 in 1998, .379 in 1999, and .350 in 2001. Not just a threat at the plate, Walker also won seven Gold Gloves.
Though he battled a bias as a result of his home ballpark of Coors Field throughout his playing career and Hall of Fame push, Walker’s success was not a creation of altitude but rather a reflection of his immense talent. In 1992, Walker ranked 5th in NL MVP voting with the Montreal Expos.
In 2018, MLB.com’s Joe Posnanski wrote a piece arguing in favor of Walker’s induction to the Hall of Fame. In the article, he looked at which players in the history of the game ranked in the top 100 in batting runs, baserunning runs, and fielding runs. Posnanski found that only 34 players ranked in the top 100 in just two of those categories. But a mere three players found themselves in the top 100 in all three categories. Those players were Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, and Larry Walker.
Beyond his impact on the field, Larry Walker has once again impacted the Colorado Rockies franchise by becoming the first player in franchise history to break down the Coors Field bias and find his rightful place in Cooperstown.
As Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry wrote after yet another HOF snub before Walker ultimately was voted in, Rockies HOF candidates were being penalized greater on ballots for their home field than other stars were for using PED’s. Hopefully, Walker’s HOF induction means that bias is breaking down and more Rockies will someday join him in Cooperstown.
Now Walker–who was notorious for his superstition surrounding the number 3–has become the 333rd player inducted into the Hall of Fame and after this weekend, his number 33 will become the third jersey retired in the Coors Field outfield, next to Helton’s 17 and Jackie Robinson’s 42.
You can read more about Saturday’s game, including betting odds, lines, matchup, and timing for the ceremony for Larry Walker here.