Saturday, March 1, 2014

Harry Walker (#318)

Harry “The Hat” Walker managed the Pirates from the start of the 1965 season until midway through the 1967 season. He then managed the Astros from the 2nd half of 1968 until mid-August 1972, when he was replaced by Leo Durocher.

Walker’s baseball career began in 1937, when he was signed by the Phillies. After 3 seasons as an outfielder in their farm system, he was traded to the Cardinals, and played 2 seasons in their system, including a few games each year with the big club.

Harry played the entire ’42 and ’43 seasons with the Cardinals, as a reserve in 1942, and as the everyday center fielder in 1943. He made the all-star team in ’43, and played in the World Series both years against the Yankees.

Walker missed the 1944 and 1945 seasons while in military service, then returned to the Cardinals in 1946, where he hit .412 in the World Series vs. the Red Sox.

Harry was traded to the Phillies in May 1947, and went on to win the NL batting title with a .363 average that season. He also chipped-in a league-leading 16 triples.

Walker began the ’48 season in center field, but lost the job to rookie Richie Ashburn in early May. He spent the remainder of that season as the backup CF/LF, and pinch-hitting. He also caught 4 straight games in late-August, including both ends of a doubleheader.

He was traded to the Cubs after the 1948 season, then quickly bounced to the Reds and Cardinals.

Walker became a player-manager in the Cardinals’ minor-league system from 1951 to 1958, but also managed the Cardinals for the 2nd half of 1955 on an interim basis

After a 4-year gap, Harry returned as the Cardinals’ AAA manager for ’63 and ’64, then moved on to his 2 big-league managing gigs from 1965-72 as mentioned above.

Walker passed away in August 1999 at age 82.

Harry’s brother Dixie Walker was a starting outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s, and played for other teams during the 1930s.

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