Former Tiger Walker Excels in First Postseason Action
By Bill Martin
Special to LSUsports.net
BOSTON — Former LSU baseball standout Todd Walker has been through all the trials and tribulations most major league ballplayers face. The second baseman has endured seven losing seasons with three different ball clubs, including two stints with Minnesota, Cincinnati and Colorado. On Dec. 12, 2002, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. Now, 10 months later, Walker is in a position most players can only dream of.
Through Game 4 of the American League Championships Series, the Bossier City, La. native is hitting a blistering .393 with five home runs and six RBI in the postseason. The five homers shatters a Boston Red Sox single-postseason record, a mark set by Nomar Garciaparra in 1999. His most recent shot came off of Mike Mussina in the fifth inning Monday night, a solo homer into the right field bleachers. It was the second homer off of Mussina in nearly a week. In Game 1 of the ALCS, he hit a controversial homer that was eventually ruled fair after a fan deflected the ball before it hit the right field foul pole. The home run gave the Red Sox a three-run lead and Boston went to on to beat the Yankees 5-2 in the best-of-seven series.
Following Game 4, while addressing the media, a member of the media asked Walker if any of the success he had in the College World Series was coming back to him. Walker responded with, “that may be the greatest question I have ever heard.”
In 1993, Walker led LSU to its second national championship batting .350 with three homers and 12 RBI in the College World Series. He was named the Most Outstanding Player, and two years later the Omaha World Herald would name him to their All-Time College World Series Team.
“The College World Series was as big of a deal as the playoffs are right now, even though to everyone else it is not,” Walker said. “I have been through this before – the nerves, the excitement and everything that goes along with it all, and I can remember that feeling right now.”
While Walker’s homerun totals continue to skyrocket in the postseason, he swears he has never been much of a home run hitter, a statement indicative of his 13 regular season homers in 2003.
“I can’t explain it. I am a contact hitter who hits a lot of doubles and if the wind is blowing right it will go out of the park,” Walker said. “I think in the playoffs pitchers are less likely to mess around on 3-1 and 2-0 type of counts, so they are more likely to split the plate as opposed to in the regular season.”
The three-time collegiate All-American made his playoff debut on Oct. 1, going 4-for-4 with 2 homeruns and 4 RBI in Game 1 of the American League Division Series versus the Oakland A’s. He became the first player in major league history to record 4 RBI in his first postseason game.
A week earlier on Sept. 23, while helping his team fight for an American League wildcard berth, he hit a game-tying three-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles in what one Boston sportswriter described as “the most dramatic hit of the season”. The homer, which twisted around the right field foul pole, sent the Fenway faithful into a frenzy. The Red Sox would go on to capture a walk-off victory in the 10th inning and ultimately, a playoff berth two days later.
“I think both the home run and the game were by far the biggest thrills of my life to this point,” Walker told MLB.com. “It was awesome. Being here in Boston, and these fans and how much they love baseball and everything you hear about … and we’re fighting for a playoff spot. All things considered, that was just awesome.”