Walker worthy of place in Hall

MORRIS DALLA COSTA

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

Canadian Larry Walker had barely reached the St. Louis Cardinals' dugout after being one of the last outs of the National League championship series when the e-mails began to fly.

"Over the weekend, after the last punchout, several e-mails came to me about what the criteria was for nomination to the Hall of Fame," said Tom Valcke, president and CEO of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Marys. "Peter Daigle (a Londoner) then sent in a nomination form."

The discussion has begun on whether Walker should have to wait the standard three years before being eligible or whether an exception should be made.

That's never been an issue before. But short of Ferguson Jenkins, no Canadian baseball player has had such an impact on the game.

"I don't think I going out on a limb by saying that in three years from now he's going to get 16 out of 16 votes," said Valcke. "He's just been remarkable. There's been no one close to him. We can talk about (Canadian major league players) Jason Bay and Justin Morneau.

"If you want to tell me they are going to have 15 more years like Walker did, you're a pretty smart guy."

The attention this is getting is remarkable when one considers Walker hasn't even retired yet.

"I think he's going to," said Valcke. "I talked to Dave McKay (a Hall of Fame inductee and a Cardinals coach) and he says Walker's a 'walking bag of ice.' "

Once he does retire, the nomination form sent by Daigle will be taken to the Hall of Fame selection committee.

"If they feel it's worthy to waive the three-year mandatory waiting period . . . if it's unanimous, we'll take it to the board of directors and see," said Valcke. Nominees need 12 of the 16 votes to be inducted.

This would be a legitimate debate, unlike the debate almost three years ago when Pete Rose was nominated.

Rose played with the Montreal Expos at the start of the 1984 season. He batted .259 with 23 RBIs in 95 games. He got his 4,000th hit with the Expos.

The mere mention of Rose and Hall of Fame in the same sentence, even though it was the one in St. Marys, was a well-orchestrated story that got the Canadian Hall of Fame what it wanted -- lots of publicity. Rose's Canadian connection hardly merits serious consideration for nomination.

Not so with Walker.

The Maple Ridge, B.C., native, soon to turn 39, was the National League's most valuable player in 1997 whie with Colorado. He's a five-time all-star, a seven-time Gold Glove winner and he's won three batting crowns.

He has a long list of other accomplishments and he's as Canadian as they come.

Valcke doesn't have a vote when it comes to Hall of Fame selection. He is the sounding board and facilitator for those making the selections. His feelings on Walker are shared by many in the general public.

"He's been so exceptional. If there's ever going to be an exception now's the time," Valcke said. "His numbers speak for themselves. I love the fact he's another (Wayne) Gretzky, (Steve) Nash, another Mike Weir. He's a typical, wholesome Canadian Joe. He hasn't beaten his wife, hasn't gotten into drugs.

"He's a hard worker, a laugher in the clubhouse. If he'd accomplished all those numbers and been a jerk, I wouldn't feel like this, but he has checkmarks in all the categories."

No argument there. In fact, his numbers are comparable to several great players who are in Cooperstown, N.Y.

But getting into any Hall of Fame is the ultimate stamp of approval. That's why there are rules and standards to entering. There isn't one Hall of Fame for those who had to wait three years and another for the exceptions.

Walker deserves to be in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. If there were no three-year rule, he deserves to be there immediately. So change the rule for everyone, or wait three years.

No exceptions.


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