Larry Walker throws out the first pitch for provincials

Larry Walker, considered by many the greatest Canadian ball player of all time, was back on the diamond in his hometown on Thursday night.

Canadian baseball legend Larry Walker throws out the ceremonial first pitch for the provincial tournament.

Canadian baseball legend Larry Walker throws out the ceremonial first pitch for the provincial tournament.

By Neil Corbett


Larry Walker, considered by many the greatest Canadian ball player of all time, was back on the diamond in his hometown on Thursday night.

Walker threw out the ceremonial first pitch to open the pee wee and bantam AA provincial championships, hosted by Ridge Meadows Minor Baseball over the long weekend.

He told the boys who might have dreams of playing pro baseball: “This is where it starts. This is where you get all your work in, all your practice in, listening to your coaches, listening to your parents, and competing and just getting after it, and that’s what I did.”

Then he graciously posed for photos and signed balls, caps and shirts until the last fan was satisfied.

He’s a rare sight in Maple Ridge, but says he visits his father Larry Walker Sr. and the rest of his family two or three times a year.

“I have a cabin I come back here to visit, to enjoy the B.C. weather and people and family. It’s hard not to come back – this is home.”

Walker keeps a low profile, but still grabs headlines once in awhile. It made national news in Canada when he bowled a perfect game, and Fox Sports grabbed the story south of the border.

He tweeted it out on his Twitter account @Cdnmooselips33: “I must share with all. Bowl in a league and tonight got my first perfect game!! 300! Never thought possible. #baskinginmyglory.”

“I’m in a men’s 10-pin league back in Florida, where I live.”

“I’ve been bowling 10-pin now for I think five years, It’s something different.”

Most Canadians baseball fans will see him out on the diamond as a coach with Team Canada. He said he is enjoying his work with Baseball Canada, and can see a tremendous growth in the game in the country since when he first began his career in 1989 with the Montreal Expos.

“It has graduated to a different level now. It’s evident what you see at the Major League level, what talent comes out of Canada, and the team you can put together with Canadians. We don’t just put together a mediocre team we can put together an all-star team.”

He spent some time working with a Tyler O’Neill, an up-and-coming great prospect from Maple Ridge.

“We had a blast at the Pan Am Games, winning the gold medal with him there, and he had some huge hits for us there.

Tyler O’Neill is hitting .305 with 19 home runs and 79 RBI through 374 at bats with the double A Jackson Generals of the Southern League, farm team of the Seattle Mariners. He is second in home runs, fourth in average and leads the league in RBI – and with his great production coming at just 21 years of age, he has established himself as a top prospect.

“He’s one of those guys that’s got really untapped ability. How far he wants to go with it is going to be up to him, because it’s all right there,” said Walker.

He said the key for O’Neill will be to “stay within himself, and not get bigger than the game itself, then he will be very successful.”

Could the Seattle Mariners slugger have a shot at breaking his career mark of 383 home runs? It’s the best total by a Canadian player.

“I hope every kid that comes up breaks all my records – that’s what they’re there for. If that’s the case, then kids are doing well from Canada, and then that makes me happy.”

He said the guy people should talk breaking his home run mark is the Cincinnatti Reds star first baseman.

“Joe Votto will have a shot, going the way he’s going,” he said.

“Tyler is more than welcome to take them all on.”

He’ll have his hands full. The 49-year-old Walker played for the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals, retiring in 2005 after. His career batting average was .313, and he won three National League batting titles in 1998, 1999 and 2001. He was a five-time all-star, seven-time gold glove winner and won the National League MVP award in 1997 for an incredible season in which he hit 49 home runs.

Walker was talked into throwing out the first pitch by his father, Larry Walker Sr., who is the minor association’s umpire in chief, and a frequent presence behind the plate.

His famous son isn’t surprised to see his father still at the ball park, at the age of 78.

“Most get older, he’s getting younger,” he said.

“He enjoys being out here and he’s been doing this voluntarily for so long now that it’s incredible. The community owes him a lot for what he’s done.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge artist Zoran Malinovski has a new online exhibition called What’s Happening. (Angie Malinovski/Special to The News)
Exhibition by Maple Ridge artist brings environment back to the forefront

Zoran Malinovski’s online exhibition called What’s Happening

Maureen Blamey is a seniors outreach social worker with the geriatrics team. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
New geriatrics team to help seniors in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

The Seniors Service Team was formed to improve the quality of life for pre-frail and frail, medically complex seniors

Baillie House long-term care is located at Ridge Meadows Hospital. (Google Maps)
Five people test positive for COVID-19 at Maple Ridge’s Baillie House

Long-term care facility is one month removed from its last outbreak

Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows MLA Beare performs one of first official acts in new office

Order permitting use of additional communication tools in public sector during pandemic extended

Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)
Pitt Meadows city hall and residents oppose new CP Rail operation

Company announces plans for CP Logistics Park: Vancouver

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Lefeuvre Road, near Myrtle Avenue, was blocked to traffic on Thursday (Dec. 3) after an abandoned pickup truck was found on fire. Police are investigating to determine if there are any links to a killing an hour earlier in Surrey. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Torched truck found in Abbotsford an hour after killing in Surrey

Police still investigating to determine if incidents are linked

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

Most Read