Larry Walker on Hall of Fame ballot results, controversy
Larry Walker, who played 17 years with the Expos, Rockies and Cardinals, received 21.6 percent of this year's Hall of Fame vote in his third year on the ballot after receiving 20.3 percent and 22.9 percent his first two years. (Seventy-five percent is needed for election; five percent is needed to remain on the ballot.) Despite Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling, among others, joining the ballot for the first time, no player received enough votes for Hall enshrinement.
A five-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove winner in rightfield and the 1997 National League MVP, Walker won three batting titles, hit 383 career home runs, stole 230 bases and finished with a .313 batting average, .400 on-base percentage and .565 slugging percentage.
Walker, a British Columbia native, will be the hitting coach for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, and he shared his thoughts on and reaction to this year's Hall of Fame ballot with SI.com.
Last year I forgot even what day the results of the vote were being announced. My dad, Larry Sr., called me a day later, and I didn't realize it had happened.
This year I actually spent time doing something I normally don't do: reading stories from the people who voted for me and why, and then from the people who voted against me and why.
I was prepared for my vote total to be lower after hearing how voters were thinking. When I saw the percentage by my name, I felt relief. Some people had told me I might not get the five-percent of the vote needed to be on the ballot next year.
I was actually shocked by some of the articles I read in which people supported me. They studied my home and road splits and the Coors Field effect and how they would compare to other people's numbers after doing all that analysis. I don't know how they do it all and what it involves, but I saw the final result and I thought, 'OK, cool, I like that.' Somebody took that time to try and figure out the reasons why I should be in.
There wasn't a lot of negative stuff. I'm not linked to performance enhancing drugs and never will be, so I'm not worried about that.
Somebody said on the TV that we're all to blame for the fact that we saw PED use going on and nobody said anything. But you didn't see it. If there were teammates of mine doing it, they didn't sit in the middle of the clubhouse and shove a needle in their butt. Maybe they showed up to spring training bigger and stronger -- I witnessed that but at the time I never put two and two together. I'd just think, 'Holy God, you worked your butt off this winter.'
To say that we're all to blame because we didn't go rat one of our teammates? A, I don't recall seeing them doing it. It didn't happen that they would do it right in front of everybody. B, if you are getting called guilty for not saying something, well, otherwise you end up being a Jose Canseco, which a lot of players don't like because he ratted his peers, his teammates, his friends.
Ask anybody who looks at me -- if there was a needle going in my butt, it had pancake batter in it, not steroids. People will always say, "Oh, you played then." Even 20 years from now, it's going to be that way for all of us from that era.
So I understand the difficulty the writers have and what they've got to go through to decide what's right and what's wrong. It's a tough call. I kind of agree with both sides of the argument at different times. I was at home the other night and watched many hours of TV on the subject. I'd go back and forth: for many hours. I'd go, 'Yeah, I get his point.' 'And yeah, I see his point.' Who's right?
As for me, I just hope I can stay on the ballot and still have that chance. I want to get elected but it's out of my control. I've done all I can do.