STRANGE GH: Shortest sports career for an Ottawa County native

Aug 29, 2011

 

Walter S. Walker was born in Berlin (renamed Marne in 1919) on March 12, 1860. When he was 24 years old, he got his big break in professional sports by signing with the Detroit Wolverines baseball team.

Walker, the son of Archibald and Mary Walker, stood 5 foot, 10 inches, and weighed 162 pounds at the time. He played the position of catcher and reportedly threw right-hand.

On Thursday, May 8, 1884, the Detroit Wolverines faced opponents the New York Gothams at home. In Walker’s one and only game, he had one hit in four times at bat and scored one run. His team was defeated that day.

The Detroit Wolverines team played in the National League from 1881-88. During their existence, they won 426 games and lost 437, and won the World Series in 1887 over the St. Louis Browns before disbanding.

Walker’s departure was likely due to his lackluster playing that day or team finances. At the time, Detroit was not yet the industrious “Motor City” and simply could not support a professional sports team.

Walker changed directions, moved to Ionia, went to law school and passed the bar exam. He opened a law practice with partner Fred C. Wellington and married a Kent County gal named Jeannie V. Kimball. In 1887, he was elected prosecuting attorney of Mount Pleasant.

Then something strange happened to this Ottawa County home boy. Apparently, the “one-hit-wonder” lost his mind.

By 1900, Walter Walker’s new home was the Eastern Michigan Asylum for the Insane in Pontiac. It’s where he lived out the remainder of his life. Walker died there on Feb. 28, 1922, at the age of 61. He is buried in St. Peter & Paul Catholic Cemetery in Ionia.

If you “Google” the name Walter S. Walker, you’ll find him in the annals of sports history, but barely. He is more infamous than famous — earning the distinction of having the shortest professional sports career for an Ottawa County native.

 

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