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Walker makes most of Series debut
10/24/2004 2:12 AM ET
BOSTON -- It was an incredible offensive outburst under any circumstances, but to say his performance in Game 1 of the World Series was the stuff Larry Walker dreamed of as a kid would be a little north of the truth.

It was cold in Boston on Saturday night, but he wasn't on ice. He did his damage with a bat, not a stick. And this was, after all, the World Series, not the Stanley Cup.

But for the last 20 years of his 38-year-old life, the native of British Columbia and former wannabe hockey star has in fact dreamed of reaching the World Series. As for dreaming up his debut Saturday night, that's a different story.

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Besides, after his performance in the Cardinals' Game 1 loss to the Red Sox, the quirky Canadian didn't even list his 4-for-5 night with a homer and two doubles as the highlight of his night.

"Actually, I was more excited about being a few steps away from Steven Tyler," Walker said, giving props to the Aerosmith front man and national anthem singer. "That was really cool."

Um, Larry? So is coming a triple shy of the cycle in your first World Series game.

But the real reason Walker wasn't talking in glowing terms about his individual achievement was that the Cardinals had lost, 11-9, and his efforts simply weren't enough to stave off the Red Sox and their remarkable lineup.

"I was glad I was able to contribute but I would have rather had a win," Walker said. "I just tried to treat this like another game, that's always been my approach. I try not to keep too high or too down, so it really didn't seem all that different for me tonight."

Facts machine
With his third-inning home run in Game 1, Larry Walker became just the second Canadian-born Major Leaguer to go deep in a World Series. George Selkirk slugged two for the Yankees in the 1936 World Series against the Giants.

The performance, however, was different -- for just about anyone who has played in a World Series game, much less one's debut in the Fall Classic. Walker, who approved an Aug. 6 trade to the Cardinals from Colorado, had logged 15 years in the Majors before taking his first swing on the game's greatest stage, and he didn't waste one bit of the opportunity.

Walker doubled to the right-field corner in his first at-bat off Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, against whom he was 2-for-7 with a homer lifetime coming into the game. Walker then came up with his second career homer off Wakefield with a shot that gave the Cardinals some life after the Sox jumped out to a 4-1 lead. It also made him only the second Canadian to homer in the World Series, following the powerful performance in 1936 of the Yankees' George Selkirk, who went deep in Games 1 and 5 that year.

Walker singled in the fourth before coming up with a clutch double in the sixth that tied the game at 7. He might have even gone for third, which would have given him a cycle, under other circumstances on that one.

Finally, a ball off the bat of Walker knocked in the tying run again in the eighth as the Canadian's sinking liner caused left fielder Manny Ramirez to come off his skates. The play was ruled an error, but it marked the fifth time on the night Walker struck the ball hard.

Again, Walker stuck with the team concept when it came time to talk about how he provided the catalyst for the Cardinals' comebacks.

   Larry Walker  /   RF
Born: 12/01/66
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R

"It was nice that we came back from being five down, and then they added two more," Walker said. "We battled and so did they. I think you saw why both of these teams got this far, both have a lot of talent and both can come back."

At least Game 1 starter and loser Woody Williams could appreciate the greatness of what Walker accomplished Saturday night.

"Incredible," Williams said. "I'm sure a lot of people don't even realize what he did, because it was such an exciting game, back and forth. But four hits is unbelievable, much less on this stage here. He's been solid ever since we got him, and it's obviously nice to have him on our team."

What's left for an encore for Walker? It would be hard to top that individual performance.

But he knows the Cardinals can top their team performance, and that would be more important to him than standing next to Steven Tyler or scoring a goal in a Stanley Cup game.

"You don't expect to get to the World Series and sweep, that doesn't happen very often," Walker said. "The goal now is to get out of here 1-1. This team has come back before. We were down, 3-2, to a good team in the Astros that really played us tough, and we got through that."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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