By Craig Muder
Charley Walters walked into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday like hundreds of other tourists.
But unlike most other visitors, Walters found a piece of his own history inside the Museum walls.
Walters, a sports columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, stopped in Cooperstown to visit the home of baseball. An award-winning journalist, Walters is also a former big leaguer – having pitched in six games with the Minnesota Twins in 1969.
“It wasn’t much of a career,” Walters said.
Nonetheless, a clippings file detailing Walters’ baseball life is preserved at the Hall of Fame – just like each of the more than 17,000 other men who have played Major League Baseball. And the Museum’s photo archive also contains shots of Walters – a fact that shocked the former fastballer from Minneapolis.
“I can’t believe you have this one,” said Walters of a photo of himself in uniform with the Washington Senators, a team he was traded to in 1970 but for which Walters never appeared in a regular-season game. “I didn’t even know this existed.”
Walters signed with the Twins in 1966 following a tryout camp and made Minnesota’s Opening Day roster in 1969. He debuted on April 11 of that year against the Angels, and was unscored upon in his first five appearances before being charged with four runs in one-and-a-third innings on May 14 against Baltimore – his last big league game.
“I had a great fastball, but no curve,” Walters said. “Billy Martin (the Twins manager in 1969) loved me, though, because I threw hard and threw inside.”
Walters spent the rest of the 1969 season in the minors, but did pick up $1,600 (a quarter playoff share) when the Twins won the American League West. He was traded to the Senators in the spring of 1970 in a deal for outfielder Brant Alyea.
“I always wanted to be a journalist, so when my playing career was done I went back to the University of Minnesota and got my degree,” said Walters, who went on to become a beat writer for the Twins. “I always thought being a baseball writer was like a fairy tale: Every day was a new adventure.”
For Walters, however, the real adventure came Friday in Cooperstown.
“This is just wonderful, seeing all the history here,” Walters said. “It’s incredible to see something like this photo of me in the Hall of Fame.”
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.