DENVER — The number 33 follows Larry Walker everywhere.
He was the 333rd player inducted into the hall of fame, after having to wait 10 years to get the call. It was also, of course, what he wore on the back of his jersey for 10 seasons in Colorado. And his daughter’s total even added up to that number at the Rockies store on Friday night.
Now, 33 will forever be a part of Rockies history.
The Rockies retired Walker’s number during a pregame ceremony on Saturday, dressing up the number with a gold rim around it on the second deck façade. He’s only the second player in franchise history to have his number immortalized, joining No. 17 Todd Helton, Walker’s former teammate.
“The number pops up so often,” Walker said. “People say you shouldn’t have had to wait 10 years to get in, but maybe it was done for a reason because it was 333.”
Even before this, his place in the Rockies records books had long since been established. He signed with the Rockies prior to the 1995 season, playing in the inaugural game at Coors Field. Walker recalls the moment he walked into Coors Field for the first time, heading over to right field immediately to get a feel for it.
At the time, the franchise was young and in need of stars. He easily fit the bill, becoming a fan favorite for both his athletic accomplishments and outgoing personality.
“I consider myself to be average,” said Walker, the first player in franchise history to win the National League MVP award. “Sometimes I forget who I am.”
Walker walked back through those same Coors Field gates on Saturday, but this time was obviously different. He was nervous before his hall of fame speech in Cooperstown last month, feeling out of his element.
He still had many sleepless nights preparing for this moment, waking up at 3:30 a.m. the past few nights. But overall, he felt calm. This time, he got to talk to his fans on a baseball field, just like he did for all those years.
“Baseball doesn’t exist without the fans,” he said. “I want these fans to maybe not see my face there, but their face there. When they come to visit it, I want them to know that CR represents them more than it represents me.”
He hopes to see more numbers join his soon, mentioning specifically Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon.