Glancing Back, and Remembering Jerry Walker
Precocious only begins to describe the brief career of pitcher Jerry Walker. At age 20, he was the youngest player ever to start an All-Star game. By age 26, he was retired.
Walker was signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 1957 and found a spot immediately in the Orioles’ bullpen, with no stops in the minor leagues. He was 1-0 as an 18-year-old rookie, with a 2.93 ERA. His only decision was a 10-inning, four-hit shutout of the Washington Senators.
He appeared in only six games in 1958, and then started out 7-3 in 1959, garnering the starting assignment in that year’s All-Star game. He finished the 1959 season at 11-10 with a 2.92 ERA.
The Orioles entered the 1960s with what was considered one of the best young starting rotations in baseball. Their “Kiddie Corps” included Walker, Milt Pappas, Chuck Estrada and Steve Barber. Unfortunately for Walker, he would be the first to be removed from the group.
After going 3-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 1960, Walker was traded with Chuck Essegian to the Kansas City Athletics for Dick Hall and Dick Williams. In his first season in Kansas City, Walker won eight games for an Athletics team that finished ninth at 61-100. He won eight more games in 1962, and then was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Chuck Essegian … the same Chuck Essegian who accompanied him on the trade from Baltimore to Kansas City.
Walker went 6-6 for the Tribe in 1963, with all but two of his 39 appearances coming in relief. He retired after six appearances in the 1964 season. He was only 25 at the time he retired.
Walker finished with an eight-year career record of 37-44 and a 4.66 ERA.