10/19/05 2:00 AM ET
Walker says goodbye to baseball
Cardinals veteran has played his final game
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
Left fielder Reggie Sanders: "He was dealing with a lot, physically and mentally. But he's a true professional. He's going to go out there and give what he has. For us, as players in this clubhouse, we support each other. We do what we need to do to have each other's back. And we're just really proud of what Larry's done for us."Shortstop David Eckstein: "You wish you could write a better script for him. He deserves a World Series ring, just by the way he plays." Walker came to the Cardinals in an Aug. 2004 trade for three Minor Leaguers after clearing waivers while with the Rockies, the team with which he spent a decade as a cornerstone after establishing himself with the Expos. His arrival took the Cardinals lineup to a different level, as he batted in the No. 2 hole -- not a bad place for a hitter with his power. He did get his first chance to play in the World Series last year, when the Cardinals were beaten by the Red Sox. Earlier in 2004, he'd collected his 2,000th career hit with a double on June 30 against Milwaukee, becoming the first Canadian-born player to reach that plateau. He finishes his career with a .313 career average, a .965 on-base plus slugging average, 383 homers, 1,311 RBIs and 2,160 hits in 1,988 games played. Oh, and the undying admiration of those who have been around him these last two years of his marvelous career. "Most people know the kind of player that he has been his whole career. I mean, just a gifted, all-around everything," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "In fact, I think he probably would be in the top three of just about every category: baserunning, defense, handling the bat. "What we came to learn about him, he's really an outstanding personality. I mean, guys like to spend time with him. ... We didn't know it until he was a teammate, [but] this guy is a great teammate who is a lot of fun to be around and helped keep those positive vibes that we've had ever since he's been here." And that's the part that Walker will miss the most, the camaraderie of being a teammate and taking on the opposition together. "Going out there with a group of guys and challenging nine other guys to a baseball game, there's nothing better than that," Walker said.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.