Jerry Allen Walker (born February 12, 1939 in Ada, Oklahoma) is a former right-handed pitcher in American Major League Baseball who performed for the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Athletics and Cleveland Indians between 1957 and 1964. During his career, he stood 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and weighed 195 pounds (88 kg). He signed with Baltimore as a "bonus baby" out of Ada's Byng High School on June 28, 1957.
A member of the Orioles' fabled "Kiddie Corps" of young pitchers signed in the late 1950s (others included Milt Pappas, Steve Barber and Chuck Estrada), Walker is one of a very few players to have gone straight to the Major Leagues without ever playing a game in the minor leagues. In his debut, on July 6, 1957, against the Boston Red Sox, he failed to retire a batter, issuing bases on balls to Mickey Vernon and Jackie Jensen, then uncorking a wild pitch. Walker then was lifted from the game, but both runners scored, giving Walker an earned run average of infinity coming out of his first MLB game. However, he was consistently more effective as the season progressed, and threw a four-hit, complete game shutout against the Washington Senators on September 4, beating Camilo Pascual 1–0 for his first big-league victory.
He also became the youngest pitcher ever to start an Major League Baseball All-Star game when, at age 20, he went to mound for the American League in the second All-Star contest of 1959. Walker went three innings and allowed one run on two hits and one base on balls, and was credited with the win in a 5–3 AL victory at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Later that season, on September 11, 1959, he hurled a 16-inning, complete game shutout against the eventual league champion Chicago White Sox, winning 1–0. It was his 11th and final win of the 1959 season, his most successful campaign in the big leagues.
By age 26, however, Walker was out of the Majors. In 190 games pitched, 90 as a starter, he allowed 734 hits and 341 bases on balls over 747 innings. He had 326 strikeouts, 16 complete games, four shutouts and 13 saves.
Walker's active career ended in 1967 in the Double-A Eastern League. He has maintained his involvement in organized baseball as a minor league manager, big-league pitching coach, scout and front-office executive. He served one season (1993) as the general manager of the Detroit Tigers. From 1995 through 2007, he was the vice president and director of player personnel in the front office of the St. Louis Cardinals, working as a key assistant to then-GM Walt Jocketty. He is currently a vice president and special assistant to Jocketty with the Cincinnati Reds.
By Dean Hanley
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