New Hall of Famer Larry Walker, center, with former teammates Vinny Castilla and Todd Helton, who received 29.2 percent of the vote this year in his second year on the ballet, at the Rockies 25th anniversary celebration at Coors Field June 23, 2018.

“Larry Walker was, hands down, the best athlete I ever played with. He could’ve been a Hall of Famer in any sport he played. I’m glad I had a chance to play with and learn from one of the best to play the game,” Helton said. (Photo by Owen Perkins)

We do things differently in Colorado, especiallyfor baseball. We put our stamp on the game well before Larry Walker headed south from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, as a Rockies free agent signing in 1995. He turned an exciting team into a winning team, anchoring the Blake Street Bombers and taking Colorado to its first playoff appearance in just its third season of existence. 

It’s that “doing it different” attitude that made Walker such a great fit in purple pinstripes. He didn’t just play here; he made his home here, 8,000 feet above sea level in the Front Range mountains, washing the city out of his system as he gained another 3,000 feet on the ride home every night.

“Living in the city wouldn’t be my cup of tea,” he once told me, choosing instead to ground himself in the natural world, whether riding his Harley Road King to the summit of 14,000-foot Mt. Evans or fishing with his daughters on Evergreen Lake.

But, man, could he play here! He rewrote Colorado’s freshly penned record books for a decade in the prime of his 17-year career, and on Tuesday afternoon, Walker elevated his game one more time, answering the call from the Hall of Fame in what felt like extra innings.

Look for the full story in Sunday's edition of the Daily Planet.