Walker should have been part of ceremonies

BOB ELLIOTT , QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:17 PM ET

Over the years, 60 and counting, I’ve met a few Canadians.

A special few are certifiable, 100% proud Canadians.

Only a few — Charles Bronfman, John Diefenbaker, Jean Beliveau, Walter Gretzky and Donald S. Cherry — would be in line ahead of Larry Kenneth Robert Walker of Maple Ridge, B.C.

So, they kick off this shindig the other night in Vancouver and where was Walker?

Hometown hero Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns, a two-time NBA MVP winner, was there as he should have been.

Ditto for Rick Hansen, Catriona Le May Doan, Nancy Greene and Wayne Gretzky with torches held high waiting for a missing cauldron.

Bobby Orr, Romeo Dellaire, Anne Murray, Barbara Ann Scott, Julie Payette, Betty Fox, Jacques Villeneuve and Donald Sutherland brought in the flag.

“Donald Sutherland is great, don’t get me wrong, but this is an athletic event celebrating our culture and the people that shape us,” Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau emailed from Vancouver Saturday afternoon after being asked his opinion on the ceremonies.

“I would not be in the big leagues if it wasn’t for him (Walker). He showed us that it is possible for Canadian kids to get a shot. He’s a Hall of Famer, one of the top 10 Canadian athletes all time.”

Stubby Clapp, of Windsor, Ont., a two-time Olympian, carried the torch through LaSalle, Ont.

On the coast, minor-leaguer Adam Loewen cruised Surrey B.C., minor-leaguer Jimmy Van Ostrand, who was in Beijing, toured Richmond and Morneau of New Westminster, who helped Canada qualify for Athens at Panama in 2003, carried the torch through Vancouver.

Walker torched

Where in 45,000 kilometres of torch carrying, including 10,000 within his home province, was hometown hero Walker?

Nowhere.

Wasn’t even asked.

CTV’s Lloyd Robertson gushed about carrying the torch on TV and a bunch of others held it high, but no Walker.

Ditto California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former body builder.

“I texted him,” Morneau continued, “and told him two MVP awards are needed to be a part of the ceremonies. He should have been there. It was the world stage and actors and singers are carrying the flag, not one of the most influential Canadian athletes of our time?

“I don’t mean to sound like a whiner but it is frustrating to not see a guy that is proud to say he is Canadian and has carried the ‘torch’ for all of us in baseball not get recognition for what he has done.”

Walker is the greatest Canadian position player of all time.

Like Nash, Walker was the first Canadian to win a National League MVP award (Morneau later won the AL honour).

A three-time batting champ, Walker was a seven-time Gold Glove winner.

Walker played for Team Canada in 1984, then coached both World Baseball Classic teams in 2006 and 2009 and coached as Canada won it’s first bronze medal at the World Cup in Italy last fall. It’s his fault baseball was not an Olympic sport on the way up?

In 10 months Walker’s name appears on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. He has all those credentials with nary a mention in The Mitchell Report on steroids.

What chance does he have at a Cooperstown invite, if he isn’t even asked to a party celebrating the best Canadian athletes — and astronauts — of all time when it is held in his own back yard?

“It was disappointing Walker did not have a part in the torch run, not even in Maple Ridge, let alone part of lighting the flame,” Morneau continued. “He has done more for Canadian baseball than anyone.”

Hey VANOC, you have more than a snow problem.

You overlooked one of your own. One of our own. One of our best. Shame on you.

Sure, baseball is now a nonexistent summer Olympic sport, but help me with this ... which Olympic Games did Villeneuve and Sutherland medal at?

It’s not too late.

The closing ceremonies are still to come.

bob.elliott@sunmedia.ca


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