VANCOUVER — Larry Walker's father says he is overwhelmed with emotion about his son being voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on his final try.
"I don't know if this is ever going to sink in," Larry Walker Sr. said Tuesday, his voice cracking during a telephone interview from his home in Mission, B.C.
"When it happened there were no words and I couldn't talk. Emotional time, speechless time."
A native of Maple Ridge, B.C., Walker received 76.6 per cent of the vote by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America in his 10th and final year on the ballot. The threshold required for induction is 75 per cent.
Walker is a career .313 hitter over 17 seasons, including 10 with Colorado.
He won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1997 with the Rockies when he hit an eye-popping .366 with a league-best 49 homers, 46 doubles and a career-high 130 runs batted in.
He made his major league debut in 1989 and played six seasons with Montreal before signing a free-agent deal with Colorado.
He received 54.6 per cent of the votes last year in his ninth year on the ballot, up from the 34.1 per cent he received in 2018.
His dad said his first reaction to the news was a whoop and a fist bump.
"What he's done is just truly amazing and I never ever dreamt that I'd ever be talking about my son like this today ... about my son being inducted into the hall of fame," he said.
"And to me it was just the pinnacle ... I never dreamt it would ever happen."
Walker's father said his son should have been voted to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., years ago.
"But to get in on the last vote — that's better than missing the last vote. I'm very proud about that."
Larry Walker's path to the hall of fame began as a peewee player with the Ridge Meadows Minor Baseball Association in B.C. when he was about 11 or 12, his father said.
"He always had a natural ability to play baseball," his dad recalled.
"He was a very good player at the game although baseball wasn't his first love, it was hockey."
Jeff Scott, vice-president of the association, said Walker's success shows that even though baseball doesn't have a "spotlight" on it like hockey does in Canada, there's a chance that any kid can play in the best league in the world and make it to the Hall of Fame.
"It just shows kids that no matter where you're from or what your background is that there's hope for you to be a superstar," he said.
Larry Walker Sr., 81, was a baseball coach and his son's instructor during his peewee years.
"I was his coach for two or three years but I didn't coach him too much," he said.
"It was a thing where I found that your kids listen to you less than they listen to somebody else when they're on the ball field. You know what I mean? It just goes in one ear and out the other ear."
He said his son's achievements will make him a role model who younger kids look up to.
"There'll be a lot more people now I'm sure, in Canada, trying to play the game of baseball because they want to be like Larry Walker," he said.
"That makes me pretty proud."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2020
Hina Alam, The Canadian Press