Rube Walker Should Be in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Thomas CoglianoCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2008

Before I begin, I would like to make this point loud and clear.  Rube Walker was my grandfather; however, I am not posting this to brag or boast.  I am writing this article because it is the right thing to do for a great pioneer of the greatest game ever invented. 

My grandfather Albert "Rube" Walker should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for his accomplishments to the game as a pitching coach.  However, if you add up the number of years he devoted to the game of Major League Baseball as a player, pitching coach, and scout, he was active in the game for nearly 50 years.

His playing career was mediocre, but I will summarize what I can regarding his playing days.  Rube Walker's playing career began at the age of 22 in 1948 as a starting catcher for the Chicago Cubs. That season he hit .275 in 79 games played with 5 homeruns and 26 RBIs but only 17 strikeouts against 24 walks.

He was traded shortly before the 1951 season to the Brooklyn Dodgers and served as a backup catcher to future Hall of Famer Roy Campanella. He started all three games of the 1951 playoffs against the New York Giants and hit a homerun in the second game of that series (the only game the Dodgers won in that series). He had the misfortune of being the catcher during the Bobby Thompson homerun in game three of that series on October 3, 1951. But for the record, he did not call the pitch Ralph Branca delivered to Thompson in that famous (or infamous) at-bat [he said so].

He was a member of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodger world series championship team, although he did not have an at-bat in that famous 1955 World Series. The very next year in the 1956 World Series, Rube Walker actually had two pinch-hit at-bats (unfortunately he went 0 for 2 in that series). He continued to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers through their move to Los Angeles after the 1957 season. After playing one season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1958, he retired.

But his real legacy occurred as a pitching coach.  He went on to become a pitching coach for the Washington Senators, New York Mets, and Atlanta Braves.  With the New York Mets, he revolutionized baseball by inventing the five-man pitching rotation.  With the help of manager Gil Hodges and pitching coach Rube Walker, the Amazing Mets of 1969 won the World Series by upsetting the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles four games to one. 

Four years later, under manager Yogi Berra and pitching coach Rube Walker, the Mets won another National League pennant and were one game away from winning a second world series title only to lose in seven games to the Oakland Athletics.  As pitching coach for the Mets, Rube Walker helped groom young pitching prospects into becoming future Hall of Famers such as Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan. 

Later, he helped groom another famous pitcher into a future Hall of Famer Phil Niekro when he served as Atlanta's pitching coach.

When he became a pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves, he served manager Joe Torre in the early 1980s and helped Atlanta win the National League West division title in 1982 before losing to the eventual World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS that year.  Following his stint with Joe Torre's Braves, he went on to become a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals where he remained employed until his death on December 12, 1992.

Major League Baseball has in the past inducted managers, umpires, and sportswriters into the Hall of Fame.  Why not induct pitching coaches?  Why not induct the man who invented the five-man pitching rotation?  Why not induct the man who schooled three future Hall of Fame pitchers while a pitching coach?  Furthermore, why have the Mets not inducted this man in their own Hall of Fame given how he put the Mets on the map of baseball's elite teams?