Larry Walker Rookie Cards

Larry Walker Capsule

Larry Walker played his final MLB game on October 2, 2005, vs the Cincinnati Reds. That made him eligible for Hall of Fame induction in 2010. In his final year of eligibility, congratulations are deserving to this Canadian born ball-player also known as “Booger.”

A good barometer for a HOFer to me is if I’m in my card room sorting through some cards I would have a baseball game on in the background just listening to it. If Larry Walker would come to bat, I would typically stop what I’m doing to watch. He was that kind of player.

I had the privilege of watching his career unfold and the one thing I remembered about him was his cool and collected swagger he would display running the bases after hitting a home run. I rarely noticed any emotion coming from him after getting on base.

When looking at his career numbers one can wonder, why did it take so long for Larry to get inducted into the Hall of Fame? The straight-up answer is for two reasons: he missed a lot of games due to injury and he played in Coors Field in Colorado where its believed because of the thin air and altitude, hitters have an advantage.

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Truth is in 17 years he averaged almost 117 games per season. Also, within those 17 years, he spent 6 years playing for the Montreal Expos and 1.5 years playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. We also need to keep in mind that only 30% of his games were played at the “thin air, batter friendly, Coors Field,” so to attribute his success to only that is false.

Perhaps his best season was 1997 where he won NL MVP batting .366 with 49 home runs and 130 RBIs and the cherry on top was a 1.172 OPS! He followed that up with 2 Batting Titles in ’98 & ’99 seasons. But Larry had so much more to offer than just a bat. He was a five-tool player. He hit for average, and power. He stole bases and was a great outfielder with a cannon for an arm. Keep in mind Coors Field has the second-largest outfield,  you have a lot of ground to cover there. How did Larry handle the outfield? By winning seven gold gloves that’s how!

His career numbers are: Games 1988 | Hits 2160 | HRs 383 | Batting Avg .313 | Stolen Bases 230 | OBP .400 | OPS .965

His career accomplishments are: 1997 MVP | 7x Gold Gloves | 3x Silver Slugger | 3x Batting Title Champion (1998-1999, 2001) | 5x All-Star

The most convincing piece of evidence in favor of Walker’s induction, in my opinion, is a 72.7 WAR which happens to be a major factor in the modern-day era of inductions. A WAR statistic defined by Baseball-Reference.com means, “Wins Above Replacement” a single number that presents the number of wins the player added to the team above what a replacement player would add.” Please note, 69.4 is the average WAR for HOFers today.

I feel that the reason it took Larry Walker the full 10-year term for induction is that many times the voting is influenced by milestone numbers. Larry doesn’t have 3000 hits or 500 home runs, one can fairly say he’s not even close. But there are more recent HOFers that don’t either and that I believe forced the voters to take a closer look. And what they found in the evidence, is that Larry Walker is an All-Time Great!


OFFICIAL ROOKIE CARDS OF HOFer

LARRY WALKER

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1990 Bowman, Card No. 117 shop ebay

This is a 528 card set and was distributed as a single series. Bowman’s second-year release stood by their promise to give collectors lots of rookies. This card design is clean and simple. Half torso photo is outlined by multiple colors and encased inside big white borders. For a product with so many rookies, the card backs don’t make much sense to me. It shows a graph of how they’ve done against other teams but many of the rookies in the set don’t show any stats because they have no MLB experience. Also, it’s just difficult to read but it could just be me.

There is one parallel, Bowman Tiffany. But it has not been recognized as a true rookie card because of their distribution method.


1990 Donruss, Card No. 578 shop ebay

This is a 716 card set and was distributed as a single series. I thought I’d never see the day when 90′ Donruss featured an RC of a HOFer. Unverified stats say that 4 to 5 million of these were printed. These were everywhere during the peak of the mass-produced era (1987-1994) also known as the “Junk Wax Era.” They also suffered from print defects and miscuts.

The photo of this card makes me lol because it appears Walker is mean mugging someone, makes it a classic in my book. Bright red borders make it loud and blend nicely with black and white accents. The card back is peach/orange in color and is a classic Donruss design. There are no parallels for this card in this set.


1990 Fleer, Card No. 363 shop ebay

90′ Fleer is a 660 card set and was distributed as a single series. Another mass-produced product features Walker leaning up against a batting cage. The photo is outlined with a blue border that resembles a ribbon towards the bottom. The card back has plenty of colors and features full minor league stats, player bio and a vector image towards the bottom that features Walkers “Vital Signs.”

There is one parallel for this one 90′ Fleer Canadian. It mimics the 90′ Fleer in every way except in the copyright where it clearly states that it was printed in Canada. It’s believed that these were printed in much smaller quantities but it does not have any French translations and for that reason, the value does not differ much.


1990 Leaf, Card No. 325 shop ebay

90′ Leaf is a 528 card set split evenly into two series with 264 cards in each. Walker can be found in Series 2 packs. For the majority of collectors, this is their favorite RC of Walker. Leaf was brought back to life by Donruss in 1985 but this was the first premium Leaf set released by Donruss. It gave collectors high-quality photos, paper stock, and design.

This is a very handsome card design and what made it stand out as the best product of the year, in my opinion, was quality. Nobody produced anything this good in 1990. They really set a new standard for themselves and this release was a hit among collectors! There are no parallels for this card in this set.


1990 O-Pee-Chee, Card No. 757 shop ebay

This is a 792 card set distributed as a single series. Today the O-Pee-Chee brand is owned by Upper Deck but back in 1990, it was owned by Topps. It was the Canadian version of Topps and it mimicked the Topps brand in every way except for a few distinct details.

The front of the card looks identical to the base Topps. However, looking at the back of the card the player commentary is written in English and below it is the French translation. The O-Pee-Chee copyright at the lower right side of the card back is another characteristic and finally, a much brighter background yellow gives us context clues that help us know which one is which. There are no parallels for this card in this set.


1990 Score, Card No. 631 shop ebay

This is a 704 card set and was distributed in a single series. It features a fantastic action photo of our featured HOF. 90′ Score has multiple colored borders, Walkers borders are in blue and they wrap around the team logo at the lower right side of the card, the “1990 Rookie” emblem gives it a nice touch too. Card back is really solid with lots of colors and everything a good card back should have. There are no parallels for this card in this set.


1990 Topps, Card No. 757 shop ebay

This 792 card set was distributed in a single series. Great photo of Walker in his practice uniform kneeling down perhaps waiting for his turn in the batting cage. The photo is outlined in a dual-colored border that sits on a pixelated, fading orange border. The mustard yellow card back is printed on standard cardboard stock which is relevant because it was the last year Topps used this type of card stock, in 1991 they switched to white card stock.

Love or hate the gaudiness of 90′ Topps it is a classic. Major downfalls to this one are the mass production of this product, printing defects, and miscuts. There is a Topps Tiffany parallel as well but not considered a true RC because of its distribution method.


1990 Upper Deck, Card No. 466 shop ebay

This was the largest set featuring Walker. 90′ Donruss is an 800 card set and was split into two series, oddly enough Series 1 features cards 1-700 and Series 2 features cards 701-800. Walker can be found in Series 1 packs. It is Upper Decks’ second-year release and did not disappoint as far as design goes. Great action photo on the card front and the card back goes above and beyond giving us everything a good card back should have. It’s only downfall, like many others, it was mass-produced. There are no parallels for this card in this set.

Happy Collecting, Collectors

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Sources:
Larry Walker Stats | Baseball-Reference.com https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/walkela01.shtml (accessed January 17, 2020).
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