MAPLE RIDGE (NEWS 1130) — Thousands of kilometres from his hometown of Maple Ridge, B.C., Larry Walker made history in Cooperstown, NY, as the second Canadian ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
On Wednesday, Walker stood in front of a crowd of other baseball greats, fans, and his family, and thanked the place where he first took up the game, as well as the man who paved the way.
Ferguson Jenkins became a Hall of Famer in 1991, and has been the only Canadian to be enshrined in Cooperstown, until now.
The 79-year-old was in attendance at the induction ceremony and smiled as Walker spoke humbly of now being able to join him.
“Fergie, it’s an honour,” Walker said with emotion to the Canadian baseball legend.
On social media, Jenkins wrote, “Welcome to the club…Hall of Famer Larry Walker,” using the hashtag #fergiesgotafriend, a term used by Walker’s supporter to push for his induction.
— Fergie Jenkins (@fergieajenkins) September 8, 2021
Walker shined a light on his B.C. roots throughout his speech, as well as his home country.
He also credited his poor performance as a hockey goalie for pushing him to baseball as a kid.
“I was born in Maple Ridge, British Columbia and like a lot of Canadians it was almost a given that as you age you are expected you would play hockey,” he said on the MLB Network. “But fortunately as much as I tried, I was not good enough as a goalie and baseball came along.” He says that led him to an incredible career in the sport, where he played professionally for 17 years until his retirement in 2005.
Still, after decades of experience in the MLB, he says he always remembers the happy moments and important lessons he learned at a young age in Maple Ridge.
“I did play lots of fast pitch softball in the Maple Ridge Lanes team with my dad and my three brothers,” he said, crediting them with his early love of the game. He went on to thank his little league coaches with the Pitt Meadows Lions, and later the Coquitlam Reds for helping him hone his skills.
Walker says he is grateful as well that the Montreal Expos took a chance on him to play professional baseball.
“It was a great honour to put on the Expo uniform and represent my home country,” he said. “To the fans hoping for their team to return to Montreal, I join you in hoping that before long baseball will return to your beautiful city.”
Larry hit bombs. pic.twitter.com/SLAR7Ju8wf
— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) September 8, 2021
“I share this honour with every Canadian. And I hope all you Canadian kids out there who have dreams of playing in the big leagues that seeing me here today gives you another reason to go after those dreams,” he said.
He’s in very good company in the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, joined by New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter, former St. Louis Cardinals Ted Simmons, and the late labor leader Marvin Miller. Last year’s induction ceremony was postponed due to the pandemic.
Today is the day! https://t.co/RCwcAdh7EY
— Caroline Frolic (@CarolineFrolic) September 8, 2021
With files from Sportsnet