Move to mound gave Walters Hall shot
Converted third baseman with 198 wins on Veterans ballot
Bucky Walters reluctantly agreed to make the transition from third baseman to pitcher in 1934. For more than a decade thereafter, it was the hitters who were reluctant to step into the box against Walters.
A change of positions paved the way for Walters to rack up 198 wins over 16 seasons and finish his Major League career with a 3.30 ERA. Although he didn't become a full-time pitcher until he was 27, Walters built a resume that could propel him into the Hall of Fame.
As a candidate on the pre-1943 Veterans Committee ballot, Walters will be considered for the Class of 2009. The other members of the pre-1943 Veterans Committee final ballot are Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Joe Gordon, Sherry Magee, Carl Mays, Allie Reynolds, Vern Stephens, Mickey Vernon and Deacon White.
Any player receiving at least 75 percent of the vote from the Veterans Committee, which consists of the 64 living Hall of Famers, will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2009. Results from the Veterans Committee vote will be revealed at 1 p.m. ET on MLB.com on Monday from baseball's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
Walters, who died at 82 on April 20, 1991, became a pitcher at the urging of Phillies manager Jimmy Wilson, who had become enamored with Walters' strong arm while throwing from third base. Walters pitched for the Phils for 3 1/2 seasons before he was traded to the Reds. In Cincinnati, Walters burst into prominence and was an ace on two pennant-winning clubs in 1939 and 1940.
In '39, Walters went 27-11 with a 2.29 ERA over 319 innings. He was the National League's MVP and the fun didn't end until the Yankees swept the Reds in the World Series. With Walters having another sensational year in '40, Cincinnati came back to win it all.
Walters went 22-10 with a 2.48 ERA and delivered a two-hit shutout in Game 6 of the World Series against the Tigers, setting the stage for a Game 7 celebration.
Over his 11-year tenure with the Reds, Walters compiled a 2.93 ERA. He played for the Boston Braves and the Boston Red Sox in addition to the Phillies and Reds. Walters was a six-time All-Star who worked over 300 innings for three years in a row from 1939-1941.
It took some convincing for Walters to make that transition from the hot corner to the mound. But once he took the hill, Walters reigned as a true king of the hill.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.