Former Pittsburgh Pirate and MLB Player
Saturday, June 12, 2021
3pm Talk Show from Amphitheater and then Grand Marshall in the Parade at 5pm
After 12 seasons in the big leagues, Neil Walker is hanging up his cleats. The veteran infielder, who had stints with six teams after making his MLB debut in 2009, announced his retirement Tuesday afternoon on Twitter.
“Officially retired, thank you to everyone that helped me in my journey to live out my childhood dream of being a Major Leaguer, I loved & cherished every day,” Walker said in his tweet. “From Pittsburgh, NY Mets & Yankees, Milwaukee, Miami, and Philly, nothing but love to those Organizations, Cities & Fans!”
Walker, 35, was drafted in the first round of the 2004 MLB Draft as a catcher by his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates. He grew up in the North Hills suburbs of Pittsburgh and graduated from Pine-Richland High School in 2004 before being drafted that June.
Walker spent most of the next five years in the Minors before receiving his first Major League callup on Sept. 1, 2009, and he made his debut as a pinch-hitter against the Reds that night. Despite being drafted as a catcher, Walker played all but seven games as a second baseman while with the Pirates, though he’d go on to be more of a utility player with the Brewers, Yankees, Marlins and Phillies over his final five seasons.
So who taught him how to play second base so comfortably? None other than Pirates legend and Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski, who helped Walker with the transition during Spring Training in 2010.
“[He] could very easily have just sat on the sidelines and enjoyed his retirement, but he didn't do that,” Walker said of Mazeroski. “He talked about what he thought made himself so successful, not just as an infielder but as a teammate and as a hitter and everything combined. You soak all that up as a player.”
Walker played with the Pirates through the 2015 season before being traded to the Mets on Dec. 9 of that year. After his journey with four more organizations, he played his final game as a member of the Phillies on Sept. 8, 2020, before being designated for assignment by the club three days later.
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