Saturday, December 5, 2009
The DNR 25: #25 Jamie Walker
James Ross Walker
Austin Peay State University
1992, 10th round, Houston Astros
19-21, 4.13 ERA, 12 SV, 442.0 IP, 1.296 WHIP, 108 ERA+
2003: 2nd in games pitched (78)
2007: 1st in games pitched (81)
Best Tiger Season
Jamie “The Cat” Walker was great for us all five seasons he spent in Detroit. But if you have to pick one, 2006 was his best. It was also his lightest workload as a Tiger. He appeared in 56 games, had a 2.81 ERA, and and amazing ERA+ of 162. He was one of many guys that happened to have an outstanding season for us in ’06.
Little Known Fact
In 1997, Jamie was traded with Jermaine Dye by the Atlanta Braves to the Kansas City Royals for Keith Lockhart and Michael Tucker. Atlanta must only make good trades for them with Detroit.
Reason For Being On The List
Well, other than being such a consistent force for us out of the pen, I’ll always be a fan of Jamie’s after meeting him at the 2004 TigerFest at the Joe Louis Arena. 2004, as you know, was two years before most Tiger fans realized baseball was played in Detroit. And this particular TigerFest was about a week before the signing of Ivan Rodriguez became finalized.
I’m not sure how TigerFest is set up now since it has been moved to Comerica and is attended by too many people for me to be interested in dealing with nowadays, but back then, they had you wait in line for autographs without knowing who was going to be at the end and signing. They switched out the players every half hour or hour. Since waiting in line is boring, my friends and I each bought these big 32oz (I think) beers for the wait. We finally get up front and there’s Jamie Walker.
Now all of the Tigers had been pleasant enough throughout the day, but most were pretty quiet and tried to keep the line moving. There was one guy who seemed to be brain damaged or something. (His name rhymes with Leremy Stonderman.) But Walker was different than the other guys...to us, at least.
He smiled, signed, and looked up and noticed the beers in our hands. In his Tennessee accent he said, “Damn! Those beers look pretty good! How much y’all play for those things?” I chuckled and told him eight bucks. “Eight bucks? Holy sheepsh-t! That’s insane!” I laughed and said something about the Tigers needing the money if the Pudge rumors were true. He shook his head a bit, mumbled a "guess so...man", shook my hand, and that was it. Funny as hell at the time.
After that, Jamie Walker was always a favorite of mine. And my friends and I, to this day, still refer to him as “Sheepsh-t”.
What Happened To Him?
Walker cashed in on his success with the Tigers in 2007, leaving for Baltimore. He more than doubled his previous high salary by making $3 million the first year and $4.5 million in ’08 and ’09. While he pitched very well for the Orioles in ’07, the next two years were a nightmare for Walker before finally being released on June 5, 2009. No one else took a chance on him and his career may about be over at the age of 38.
Walker is married to his wife, Natalie, and has four children, Ross, James, Harlee, and Hannah. They live in Kansas.
Info ripped off of baseball-reference.com and Wikipedia.
Pics via Google.