Robert Vernon Walk
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 208 lb.
- School College of the Canyons
- High School William S. Hart High School
- Debut May 26, 1980
- Final Game September 29, 1993
- Born November 26, 1956 in Van Nuys, CA USA
Bob Walk has spent over 30 years in professional baseball. He won three minor league ERA titles and just missed a fourth. In the major leagues, he won over 100 games and was an All-Star once. He then became an announcer.
Draft and amateur history
Bob graduated from Hart High School in California in 1974. He then attended College of the Canyons JC in Valencia, CA a top JC for baseball at that time. The person most influential on his young baseball life was his grandfather who bought him his first glove.
Walk was picked by the California Angels in the 5th round of the 1975 amateur draft and by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 5th round of the January 1976 amateur draft. He did not sign with either team. In the secondary phase of the June 1976 draft, Walk was taken in the third round by the Phillies and inked a deal.
1977-1980: Phillies farmhand
Bob split 1977 between the Spartanburg Phillies (6-9, 3.64) and the Peninsula Pilots (0-2, 4.25). In 1978, he was 13-8 for Peninsula with a 2.12 ERA. He led the Carolina League with 13 hit batsmen but also tied for third in wins, was third in strikeouts behind John Brownlee and Henry Mack and was second in ERA, just .05 behind Jose A. Martinez.
In 1979, Walk was promoted to the Reading Phillies, where he was even more dominant with a 12-7, 2.24 record. He led the Eastern League in both ERA and strikeouts (135). He joined Dave Righetti as the EL's two All-Star pitchers. He won the ERA title by .71 over runner-up Mike Griffin.
Walk started 1980 with the Oklahoma City 89ers, going 5-1 with a 2.94 ERA. That led to his call-up to Philadelphia.
1980: Rookie season
Walk faced the defending World Series champion Pirates in his major league debut on May 26, 1980. He retired his first batter, Omar Moreno on a grounder to first, Walk getting the put-out. After striking out Tim Foli, Walk walked Dave Parker and surrendered a 2-run homer to Willie Stargell. After allowing 3 more runs in the third inning, he was relieved by Lerrin LaGrow.
Bob was 11-7 with a 4.57 ERA for the 1980 Phillies. After not pitching in the 1980 NLCS, he was the second Philadelphia Phillies pitcher to win a World Series Game. Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander was the first in Game 1 of the 1915 World Series. Walk finally repeated the feat 65 years later when, as a rookie, he started and won Game 1 of the 1980 World Series against the Kansas City Royals.
1981-1983: Struggles down South
In March of 1981, Walk was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Gary Matthews Sr.. Walk's time with Atlanta was a negative one. He battled injuries in his first year there, going 1-4 with a 4.60 ERA for the 1981 Braves and 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in four rehab starts for the Richmond Braves. He spent all of 1982 in Atlanta and won 11, but lost 9 and had a 4.87 ERA (77 ERA+). He tied Mario Soto, Ferguson Jenkins and Bob Welch for 10th in the 1982 NL in home runs allowed (19), tied Bob Knepper for 10th in earned runs allowed (89) and was tied for third in hit batsmen (6). He also had disagreements with pitching coach Bob Gibson. In the 1982 NLCS, he pitched just one inning.
Walk started 1983 even worse - 0-6 with an ERA over 10 for Richmond, but he bounced back to finish 11-12 for the International League club, with a 5.21 ERA. He led the IL in innings pitched (185), runs allowed (119), earned runs allowed (107) and complete games (11) and tied Terry Felton for the most gopher balls served up (22).
1984-1985: Dominating the minors once more
A free agent, Walk was picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He spent most of 1984 with the Hawaii Islanders and starred, going 9-5 with a 2.26 ERA, best in the Pacific Coast League. After 102 walks in 185 innings in 1983, he walked just 42 in 127 1/3 in 1984. He was .32 ahead of ERA runner-up Alfonso Pulido. Walk pitched 2 games for the 1984 Pirates, with a 1-1, 2.61 record. An elbow muscle strain cut his season short after 20 starts between the PCL and majors.
In 1985, Walk was healthy and again dominating in the PCL. He was 16-5 with a 2.65 ERA for Hawaii, leading the PCL in wins, ERA and complete games (12). He made the league All-Star team. He returned to Pittsburgh for 9 more games, going 2-3 with a 3.68 ERA. He would only have one more brief minor league stint in the next 8 years.
1986-1993: A fixture in the majors
Walk was 7-8 with a 3.75 ERA and 2 saves in 1986, starting the year in the bullpen and moving into the rotation as the year progressed. Bob went 8-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 39 games for the 1987 Pirates. He had again begun the year in relief, becoming a starter once more after Rick Reuschel was traded.
Walk improved further in Pirates, with a 12-10 record and a 2.71 ERA. His 125 ERA+ was his best for a full major league season and he was 8th in the 1988 NL in ERA. The lone negative was his 13 wild pitches, leading the league, one ahead of teammate Mike Dunne. He was 10-4 with a 2.47 ERA before the All-Star break and 1-6, 2.88 thereafter as he got little run support. Walk made his lone All-Star team. In the 7th inning of the 1988 All-Star Game, he relieved Mark Davis and struck out his only opponent, Carney Lansford. Rafael Palmeiro pinch-hit for Walk in the bottom of the inning.
Walk won a career-high 13 games in 1989 and again lost 10 but his ERA jumped to 4.41 and his ERA+ fell to 76 as his record again proved deceptive of his actual performance. He was 10th in the 1989 NL in hits allowed (208) and his 96 earned runs allowed were just two behind league leader Kevin Gross. Walk battled hamstring and groin injuries during the campaign.
In 1990, the Californian hurler was 7-5 with a save and a 3.75 ERA as the oft-injured pitcher helped Pittsburgh make its first playoff trip in 11 years. Walk was on the hill when Pittsburgh clinched the NL East Division title. In the 1990 NLCS, he was 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA, winning Game One but losing Game Four when Jose Rijo outdueled him.
Walk had the worst ERA of any Pirate starter in 1991 but it was still around league average (3.60) and his record was 9-2. He hit the only homer of his career in his second start that season, taking Danny Jackson deep. He had a 1.93 ERA in the 1991 NLCS. In Game One, he relieved an injured Doug Drabek and worked three innings for the save. In Game Four, Walk tossed two shutout innings to help Pittsburgh tie the Series. Walk was again called on in Game 7 after John Smiley was roughed up, and allowed only one run in 4 1/3 innings but Pittsburgh could do nothing against Steve Avery and lost the Series.
Walk was 10-6 with two saves and a 3.20 ERA for the 1992 Pirates. He tied for 10th in the 1992 NL in winning percentage. In the 1992 NLCS, Bob was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA. He was one of several pitchers lit up by Atlanta for 13 runs in Game Two, but came back with a gem in Game Five, matched up against Avery once again. Walk went the distance and allowed only one run on three hits (and 5 walks) to beat Atlanta and keep the Bucs' hopes alive.
Walk's role became much more important in 1993 with Drabek gone and Tim Wakefield suffering a sophomore slump. Walk went 13-14 with a 5.68 ERA as the staff workhorse. He tied John Smoltz, Curt Schilling and Andy Benes for 8th in the 1993 NL in home runs allowed (23) and surrendered 118 earned runs, most in the circuit.
Walk had an offer to continue pitching for the Detroit Tigers, but instead signed a deal to become a Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster. He was interviewed for the managerial job of the Pirates after Gene Lamont was fired following the 2000 season, but the club opted to hire Lloyd McClendon instead.
Walk was 74-51 in the minor leagues, 105-81 in the majors during the regular season and 3-1 in the playoff in the major leagues for an impressive career record of 182-133.
- NL All-Star (1988)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1988)
- The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia by David Finoli and Bill Ranier
- 1978-1986 Baseball Guides
- 1988 Pirates Yearbook
- Bob Walk (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget," Baseball Digest (March 1995), pp. 50-52