When Larry Walker is enshrined Saturday in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, it will renew the debate about who is the greatest Canadian-born player to have played in the major leagues.
Many will point to Walker, the multitalented outfielder who enjoyed an outstanding 17-year career in the major leagues. He retired after the 2005 season with 383 home runs, the most of any Canadian.
Walker began his career in 1989 with the Montreal Expos and also played with the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals.
Others will argue that the best Canadian was Ferguson Jenkins, the native of Chatham, Ont., who won 284 games and had 3,192 strikeouts over his 19-year major-league career.
Jenkins was the first unanimous inductee into the Canadian hall, located in St. Marys, Ont., in 1987. Four years later he was the first Canadian enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"We haven't honoured a career of the calibre of Larry Walker's since Fergie Jenkins was inducted," said Tom Valcke, the president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Hall.
Valcke replied diplomatically when asked who he thought deserved to be called the greatest Canadian player.
"I'll take the easy way out and conclude that Fergie was our greatest pitcher and Larry was our greatest position player," he said.
There is no denying Walker's legacy, leading all Canadians in virtually every offensive category.
"To me," Walker said, "the key word about this honour is the word Canadian. I've tried to never forget where I've come from, even when I played in Colorado or St. Louis following my time in Montreal.
"I've always believed in representing my country proudly, and I just love the rest of the Canucks still in the game," he added. "They all are humble, they all rarely talk about themselves, and they all have a tremendous sense of pride when they put that Canadian jersey on."
The native of Maple Ridge, B.C., was a five-time all-star, the 1997 National League most valuable player, and won seven Gold Gloves and three batting titles.
"He had all the tools," said Darrin Fletcher, who played with Walker on the Expos in the early 1990s. "Honestly, when I think back of all the guys I've played with as far [as]running, throwing, arm strength, hit for average, hit for power, he's probably the best player I ever played with."
Also being enshrined today are Ernie Whitt, Bernie Soulliere and the late Roy (Doc) Miller.
Whitt, a former catcher and coach with the Toronto Blue Jays, has been the manager of Canada's national senior men's team since 1999.
Soulliere, a native of Windsor, Ont., has worked as a volunteer for more than 40 years in amateur baseball circles. He coached Windsor teams to four Ontario championships and a pair of national titles in the 1970s.
Miller, who was born in Chatham, Ont., was a major-leaguer in the early 1900s with Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Cincinnati. Miller died in 1938.
With reports from Baseball Canada, The Canadian Press