WILL VOTTO FOLLOW WALKER INTO THE HALL?

0
497

Canada went 29 years between the induction of Ferguson Jenkins and Larry Walker to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but it likely won’t be that long a wait for the Canadian duo in Cooperstown to become a trio.
Toronto’s Joey Votto is a good bet for the Hall of Fame, but two things have to happen before he’ll be considered for enshrinement: 1. He has to retire from playing; and 2. He has to wait five years before his name appears on the ballot. Then, his name stays on the ballot for up to 10 years unless he achieves at least 75 per cent of the votes cast.
Jenkins, a star pitcher with the Cubs and Texas Rangers, grew up in Chatham, Ont., and was the first Canadian inducted into the Hall in 1991. Twenty-nine years went by before Walker, the pride of Maple Ridge, B.C., received the necessary number of votes in January (he got 76.6 per cent) in his 10th and final year on the ballot.
His first love being hockey, Walker, a goalie, concentrated on baseball after being cut twice by the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats. It was a wise choice. Signed by the Montreal Expos after being scouted at the world junior baseball championships in Kindersley, Sask., Walker played six seasons with the National League team and then signed a four-year deal for $22.5 million as a free agent with Colorado.
Walker’s career numbers were spectacular, and it’s shameful that Hall of Fame voters overlooked him for nine years before finally doing the right thing in his final year of eligibility. Graced with speed, power, and a terrific throwing arm, Walker batted .313 for his career, belted 383 home runs, stole 230 bases and had an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentages) of .965. That last figure ranks 11th among all Hall of Famers, trailing illustrious names like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig, but ahead of immortals such as Willie Mays, Johnny Mize, Ralph Kiner and Hank Aaron. In 1997, when Walker was voted Most Valuable Player in the N.L., he batted .366, slammed 49 homers, had an OPS of 1.172 and drove in 130 runs.
Walker’s father, Larry Walker, Sr., said he felt immense pride after the announcement. “There’ll be a lot more people … in Canada, trying to play the game of baseball because they want to be like Larry Walker,” he said in a CBC.com story.
Votto, meanwhile, should give Canada a hat trick of Hall of Famers when his name hits the ballot. Votto, 36, is currently 27th on that all-time OPS list. He’s signed with the Reds through 2024, when he’ll be 40 years old and probably ready to retire.
• Norman Chad of the Washington Post: “Jimmy Garropolo, the 49ers quarterback reportedly has dated adult film star Kiara Mia, model Alexandra King and, recently, a VIP bottle-service gal from Sacramento. With the ladies, he makes Tom Brady look like Trent Dilfer.”
• Bruce Ellisen of Washington, D.C., asks Chad: “Does MLB’ s one-year suspension of (former Astros’ manager) A.J. Hinch prevent him from getting a job with the New England Patriots?”
• CBS’s Pete Blackburn, on Twitter: “I’m OK with rigging the NHL if it means Battle of Alberta playoff matchup.”
• Vancouver humorist Steve Burgess, on Twitter, after the Mike Smith-Cam Talbot centre-ice fracas during the most recent Battle of Alberta: “The NHL only discourages goalie fights because they know a professional goalie fight league would put them out of business.”
• Headline in theonion.com: “Seattle Mariners Offhandedly Suggest Astros’, Red Sox’ Titles Be Awarded To Them Instead”
• Comedy writer Brad Dickson of Omaha, on the ‘unbeatable’ aura surrounding Mike Tyson in his prime: “He routinely knocked out most of his opponents just as they were removing their robes.”
• Dickson on how big a favourite Tyson was leading up to his fight with Buster Douglas in 1990: “Imagine the Golden State Warriors of 2017 about to play a donkey basketball team consisting of senior citizens on three-legged donkeys and then double that.”
• One more from Dickson, on the huge Buster Douglas upset win: “All things considered it was the most amazing sporting event I’ve ever watched. I don’t think I’ll see a bigger upset in my lifetime unless Lindsay Lohan wins “Celebrity Jeopardy.”
• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The most-relieved coach to lose a playoff game in NFL history? That would be Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel, after six-month-old video resurfaced of him vowing to cut off his own manhood if the Titans won Super Bowl LIV.”
• Comedy writer Jim Barach, on why 70-year-old manager Dusty Baker appealed to the Astros: “At his age he is too old to know how to work any electronic equipment newer than a VCR.”
Care to comment? Email brucepenton2003@yahoo.ca