Originally created 11/14/97

Walker tapped NL MVP



NEW YORK -- Larry Walker won the National League Most Valuable Player award on Thursday to become the first Canadian in either league to win the honor.

Walker, who hit .366 with 49 homers and 130 RBI for the Colorado Rockies, received 22 first-place votes, three seconds and three thirds for 359 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of American.

"I've done something good for me personally, and I've done something good for my country," Walker said. "Maybe kids will look up to me and it will push them to reach for their goals."

Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza was second with three firsts, 22 seconds, two thirds and one fourth for 263 points, followed by Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell -- the 1994 winner -- with 253 points.

"It's such a great feeling," Walker said. "I was going up and down the stairs at my house and I don't think I hit any of the steps. I just kind of glided up the stairs."

Walker had 409 total bases, the most in the major leagues since Stan Musial in 1948. He also led the NL in homers, slugging percentage (.720), extra-base hits (99) and on-base percentage (.452) and won his third consecutive Gold Glove in the outfield.

His batting average was second in the league, six points behind San Diego's Tony Gwynn. Walker had his average at .400 or higher as late as July 17, his 96th game of the season.

Walker also was second in runs (143) and hits (208), and his RBI total was No. 3 in the league.

"Just day after day, I sometimes shocked myself at what I was doing," Walker said. "I'd go home at night or to the hotel room and say, `I did that again? This is fun!"'

Some have said that playing in the mile-high air at Coors Field helped Walker. But he hit .346 on the road with 29 homers and 62 RBI.

"Eventually, Coors Field is going to lose the rap, just like Wrigley Field lost it or just like Fenway -- bouncing all those doubles off the wall," Walker said. "Every park has unique things that are going to work for you or against you. You've still got to throw it. You've still got to hit it and you've still got to catch it. It doesn't matter where you are."

Walker earned a $200,000 bonus for winning the award, and Rockies teammate Andres Galarraga got a $100,000 bonus for finishing seventh.

Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners was a unanimous selection on Wednesday as MVP of the American League.