photo: Larry Walker and Scott Rolen (Ford-Mobley.com)
Former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Larry Walker joins the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 as Scott Rolen improves his standing considerably. Free agent Marcell Ozuna signed with Atlanta and Matt Wieters’ St. Louis return was finalized. As the sports world mourns the passing of Kobe Bryant, our history feature highlights former Cardinals who also played in the NBA.
Larry Walker elected to the Hall of Fame
On Tuesday, January 21, the results of the voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2020 were announced. Former Cardinal Larry Walker, in his final year on the ballot, received 304 votes, which exceeded the minimum 75% threshold for election by six votes. Former Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter was also elected in his first year on the ballot, falling one vote short of a unanimous selection.
Walker joins former Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons in the 2020 Hall of Fame class. Simmons was selected back in December by the Modern Baseball Era Committee along with former Players’ Union head Marvin Miller.
Walker played in the major leagues for 17 years with three teams, the Montreal Expos, the Colorado Rockies, and finally the St. Louis Cardinals to end his career.
The Canadian born Walker was not eligible to participate in the MLB draft out of high school, as Canadian players did not become eligible until 1991. Instead, Walker was signed as a free agent in 1984 by the Montreal Expos for $1,500. Walker made his major league debut with the Expos on August 16, 1989 and played there for six seasons.
He was signed as a free agent by the Colorado Rockies in 1994 and played in Denver for the next 10 years. Walker was traded to the Cardinals in August 2004 and played for the Cardinals through 2005, his final major league season. He slashed .286/.387/.520 with 26 home runs during his short time with St. Louis.
Former Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen received increased support in his third year on the ballot, garnering a 35.3% of the vote, up from 17.2% the previous year.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on July 26, 2020, in Cooperstown, NY.
Note: This past weekend, Walker participated in Cardinals Fantasy Camp in Jupiter, FL and spoke about what being selected to the Hall means to him.
— Dan McLaughlin (@DannyMacTV) January 25, 2020
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
Despite persistent rumors that the Cardinals were pursuing free agent and former Cardinal Marcell Ozuna, the outfielder agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal with the Atlanta Braves this past week.
His new salary is only $200,000 more than the $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals that Ozuna rejected in November. There are rumors that Ozuna turned down longer bids at lower annual value.
The Cardinals will receive a compensation draft pick in this summer’s draft for the loss of Ozuna. The pick will occur following the Competitive Balance Round B and is the #71 pick in the draft.
- 1/22 The Cardinals signed free agent Matt Wieters. This was disclosed last week, but the club did not make the catcher’s return official until Wednesday, likely when he passed his physical exam.
There are no new injuries to report.
Spring Training is right around the corner. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report in 16 days, on February 11, with the first workout to begin on February 12. Position players will report on February 16, with first workout on February 17.
The first spring training game will be played on February 22 against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. The full spring training schedule can be viewed here.
Blast from the Past
At the time of this writing, the sports world is mourning the untimely and tragic death of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Numerous current players and fans are followers of the NBA, most notably Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, a southern California native and Lakers fan. Though this writer is not among those who follow basketball, the sad and tragic death of Bryant led me to investigate former St. Louis Cardinals who also played in the NBA.
As a result of this cursory search, this week’s Blast from the Past introduces Richard James (“Dick”) Ricketts Jr, player for the St. Louis Hawks from 1955-56 (currently the Atlanta Hawks) and the Rochester/Cincinnati Royals from 1956-1958 (currently the Sacramento Kings). Ricketts is also the brother of the late Dave Ricketts, catcher for St. Louis as well as manager and coach in the Cardinals minor league system.
Dick Ricketts was signed as an amateur free agent pitcher by the Cardinals in 1955. Rickets played basketball and baseball simultaneously through 1958. Most of Ricketts’ Cardinals baseball career was spent in the minor leagues.
Ricketts made his major league debut on June 14, 1959 at the age of 25. His major league career with the Cardinals was short lived, as he pitched in only 12 games for St. Louis, including nine starts. He appeared in his final major league game on July 27, 1959. In his 12 games, Ricketts posted a record of 1-6 with an ERA of 5.82.
On September 20, 1960, the Cardinals traded Ricketts to the Philadelphia Phillies. Ricketts finished his baseball career in the Phillies minor league system in 1964.
Ricketts was one of 13 athletes to play in both the NBA and MLB. He died of leukemia in 1988.
Ron Reed pitched in 24 games for the Cardinals in 1975. He had a record of 9-8 with an ERA of 3.23. The Cardinals acquired Reed from the Braves on May 28, 1975, then traded him to the Phillies in December 1975. Reed played for the Detroit Pistons from 1965-67.
These three former Cardinals all played in the NBA at some point in their athletic careers, but only Ricketts played baseball and basketball at the same time.
Two Cardinals Hall of Famers also played basketball professionally, but not in the NBA. Bob Gibson and Lou Brock toured with the Harlem Globetrotters.
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