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Larry Walker, Rockies' First Hall of Famer, Filled With Nerves Ahead Of Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

DENVER (CBS4) - Larry Walker's first experience with the Rockies was as a Montreal Expo in 1993 – and it was love at first sight.

"The first games were played at Mile High Stadium. When you're a performer, entertainer, baseball player, whatever we want to call us, it's a blast when every seat is full and the place is rocking. And that's what that place was obviously with 85,000 people. So that was very exciting to see how hungry the Colorado fan base was for baseball," Larry Walker said.

Larry Walker
Larry Walker (credit: VINCENT LAFORET/AFP/Getty Images)

Two years later, Walker joined the Rockies and gave that hungry fan base everything they dreamed of, helping the franchise to its first postseason appearance.

"1995 was the first year of the wildcard and we managed to win that. So there's that champagne in the eye thing again. That was my first experience at that. It started off with a bang. Unfortunately in my time there, we didn't make it to the playoffs again. But that was that was the best time," Walker said.

For a decade, Walker dazzled Rockies fans with big hits and big awards. In 1997, he became the first Rockie to win the National League MVP. He remains the franchise's all-time leader in batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, and OPS. Now, he is the first Rockie to become a Hall of Famer.

"As my only time being a free agent, I chose Colorado and now I get to put that CR on my cap on a plaque on the wall to represent that organization. So it's a proud moment for me and the fans and management of the Rockies," Walker said.

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Larry Walker (credit: CBS)

It's a moment that Walker never really thought about. Not while he was playing and not after he hung up his cleats. Even with his induction nearing, Walker is still getting used to the idea that he is one of baseball's all-time greats.

"I've been caught on many occasions when somebody wants me to sign something, and I sign something and I give it back to them. And then they give it back to me because I forget to put HOF 2020 on there. So I guess that reality of it hasn't sunk in," Walker said. "It's weird to hear people say something about me on TV and now the word Hall of Famer comes before it. As you'll hear in my speech, I don't necessarily consider myself a Hall of Famer at anything. So to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is quite the honor and thrill."

With his induction ceremony just days away, Walker's nerves are building. For a man who was fearless at the plate, stepping up to the mic to deliver his speech feels more daunting than any fastball or slider that's ever come his way.

1997 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 8: Larry Walker #33 of the Colorado Rockies bats against Randy Johnson #51 of the Seattle Mariners in the top of the second inning during the 68th Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Jacobs Field on Tuesday, July 8, 1997 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo By Rich Pilling/MLB via Getty Images)

"Well stepping in a batter's box with 50,000 people in the stands, there's really not many nerves, and if they are they don't last very long, but for the past few weeks as we get closer and closer (to the ceremony), and now we're within a week, there's nights where I don't go to sleep. When I do go to sleep, it's not for very long because I'm waking up and it's all going through my head. So believe me butterflies are here, right now. And there's a lot of them."

Walker will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Sept. 8. The Rockies will retire Walker's jersey on Sept. 25.

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