From Baseball in wartime
- OF, 3B
- March 19, 1908
- 5' 11"
- 188 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-14-1931 with DET
Gerald Holmes "Gee" Walker (March 19, 1908 – March 20, 1981) 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. Walker played both football and baseball at Ole Miss and has been inducted into both the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame. In the major leagues, he was known for stealing bases, finishing nine times among the top ten in the category. He accompanied the Tigers to two World Series, in 1934 and 1935.
Gee - a fiery competitor and a clown - became a favorite in Detroit. His antics earned him the nickname the "The Madman from Mississippi." He batted .300 or better in five of his first seven seasons. Though he was regularly among the league leaders in stolen bases, he also developed a reputation for being inattentive and overzealous on the basepaths. He once tried to steal a base while the batter was being given an intentional walk. During the 1934 World Series, he was picked off first while arguing with the Cardinal bench. On June 30, 1934, Walker was picked off base twice in the same inning. After Hank Greenberg singled, Walker reached base on an error, but was caught off base when the catcher threw to first base. 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. Walker hit the cycle in reverse order—starting with a home run, followed by triple, then a double, and a single. Walker continued his hot hitting in the spring of 1937 with a 27-game hit streak in April and May 1937. Walker's fast start earned him a place in the 1937 All-Star Game. He went on to reach career highs in 1937 with 18 HR, 113 RBIs, and a .335 average. His Power/Speed Number in 1937 was 20.2 -- tops in both leagues.
Despite Walker's strong performance in 1937, the Tigers (reportedly unhappy with Walker's antics) traded him after the 1937 season. The Tigers sent two of their most popular players, Gee 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."
After leaving the Bob, Walker continued to hit well for several years but was traded four more times. In December 1939, Walker was traded to the Washington Senators for Pete Appleton and Taffy Wright. In December 1940, Walker 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, with both players being knocked unconscious.
After his playing career ended, Walker was a coach with the Cincinnati Reds in 1946.
Walker died in 1981 at the Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield, 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.
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- Gee Walker