Gerald Holmes "Gee" Walker (March 19, 1908 – March 20, 1981) was a major league baseball outfielder. During his fifteen-year career he played with the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. He played in 1,784 major league games over 15 seasons with a career batting average of .294, 1,991 hits, 223 stolen bases and 124 home runs.
Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, Walker attended the University of Mississippi and was a member of the Class of 1930. He played both football and baseball at Ole Miss, and is in both the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame. As a major leaguer he was known for stealing bases, finishing nine times among the top ten for the season. He played for the Tigers in two World Series, 1934 (when they lost to the Cardinals) and 1935 (when they beat the Cubs).
Gee — a fiery competitor and a clown — became a favorite in Detroit. His antics earned him the moniker "The Madman from Mississippi." He hit .300 or better in five of his first seven seasons. Though regularly among the league leaders in stolen bases, he could also be inattentive and overzealous on the basepaths. He once tried to steal a base during an intentional walk. In the 1934 World Series, he was picked off first while arguing with the Cardinal bench. Earlier that year, on June 30, he was picked off base twice in the same inning. After Hank Greenberg singled, Walker reached on an error but was caught off base when the catcher threw to first. Greenberg tried to draw a throw by running to third base and was thrown out, with Walker taking second base. Moments later, with Walker standing six feet off the bag, the pitcher threw to second base and Walker was tagged out. Detroit manager Mickey Cochrane was so angered by Walker's inattention that he suspended Walker for 10 days and fined him $20.
In 1936, Walker hit .353 — the highest batting average of his career and 6th highest in the American League. He also hit 55 doubles — 2nd only to his teammate Charlie Gehringer.
In 1937, Walker began the season on fire. On Opening Day, he hit for the cycle — the only player to accomplish that feat on Opening Day. He did it in reverse order (called an "unnatural cycle" - starting with a home run, followed by triple, then a double and finally a single. He continued his hot hitting with a 27-game streak in April and May, and his fast start put him in the 1937 All-Star Game. He ended 1937 with career-high 18 HR, 113 RBIs and .335 average.
Despite Walker's strong performance that year, the Tigers (reportedly unhappy with his antics) traded him after the season. They sent two of their most popular players, Walker and Marv Owen, to the White Sox for Vern Kennedy, Tony Piet and Dixie Walker. The trade caused an uproar with Tiger fans, and owner Walter Briggs was forced to issue an announcement from his Miami home that "the deal was made with my approval."
Walker continued to hit well for several years afterward, but was traded four more times. In December 1939, he was traded to the Washington Senators for Pete Appleton and Taffy Wright. In December 1940, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Doc Cramer and then sent to the Cleveland Indians.
While playing for the Cincinnati Reds in 1942 Walker collided in the outfield with fellow Mississippi native Harry Craft, and both were knocked unconscious.
After retiring as a player, Walker served for a year as a coach for the Cincinnati Reds, in 1946.
Walker died in 1981 at Mississippi State Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi at age 73 after a long illness. He was survived by four sons, a daughter and two brothers, one of whom, Hub Walker, was also a former major league outfielder, with Detroit and Cincinnati.
By Dean Hanley
Page : 1