Sunday, June 27, 2010
#482) PETE WALKER
Pete Walker was selected by the New York Mets in the seventh round of the free agent draft on June 4, 1990. After pitching in the Mets minor league system, he made his major-league debut on June 7, 1995. Pete came from the bullpen in relief of starter, Bret Saberhagen facing the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park. It was one of the 13 big-league appearances Walker had for the Mets during the 1995 season. Pete ended with a 1-0 record, and 4.58 ERA.
New York traded Walker, along with Luis Arroyo in exchange for Roberto Petagine and Scott Adair on March 17, 1996. After leaving the Mets organization he would have shoulder surgery in 1996 and later knee surgery in 1998. During those injuries the right-hander would fall back upon a conversation that he had with his then minor-league manager, Bobby Valentine. He had suggested that Pete learn to throw a split-fingered fastball. "I knew that my career was over. I decided to realize who I am as a pitcher'" Walker remembers.
Pete would return to the Mets organization when he was signed as a free agent on December 26, 2000. Walker spent most of 2001 at Triple-A Norfolk working with pitching coach, Rick Waits. A season that had ended with Pete being named the team's most valuable player and leading the league in victories with a 2.99 ERA. "I just pitch differently," Walker said at the time. "I'm more into sinking the ball and getting movement on the ball. It's probably a few miles an hour slower on the radar gun, but it's more effective. If I need to reach back I can." He received a September call-up and pitched in two games to close the year with the Mets.
Walker was invited to major-league camp with the Mets in 2002. Despite a very strong showing during spring training he was sent back to the Norfolk Tides to begin the season. The Mets found themselves in a situation with too many other pitchers requiring roster spots. Pete understanding his chance would soon come accepted the demotion. "I plan on staying," he said. "I feel I'm in a good situation whether I start here or not." Walker was correct because the Mets had to place pitcher, Satoru Komiyama on the disabled list when he injured his hand in a garage door accident. Pete was recalled and pitched for New York on April 20, 2002. The Mets unsuccessfully attempted to pass Walker through waivers upon Komiyama's return. He was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays on May 4th. "I'm upset," manager Bobby Valentine shared. "As I said to Pete, it would be a good thing for him, but a bad thing for us."
At the start of the 2010 season, Walker became the roving minor-league pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
I created Pete Walker's card in the set from an autographed blank signed for my friend Patrick. He obtained it when the Toronto Blue Jays faced the Cincinnati Reds for a preseason exhibition game at Louisville Slugger Field in Kentucky on April 2, 2005.