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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Chico Walker, Playing Time - 34

Chico Walker started strong for the Cubs in 1991. Talking to The Chicago Tribune that July, he attributed it to one thing: Playing time.

"Playing every day makes such a difference," Walker told The Tribune. "I just couldn't do it in other years, getting five at-bats here and 10 more there. Some can do it, but I couldn't. So, I'd go back to the minors and play more and hit close to .300. They called me a career minor-leaguer."

Walker was in the midst of his ninth campaign with major league playing time, but he'd never seen more than 47 games in any one season. In 1991, he saw 124.

He then closed out his career with two more campaigns over 100 games, with the Cubs and the Mets and ended his career with 526 major league games played.

Walker's career began in 1976, taken by the Red Sox in the 22nd round of the draft out of Tilden Tech High School in Chicago.

Walker started with the Red Sox at short-season Elmira. He made single-A Winter Haven in 1978 and AA Bristol for 1978.

Years later, Walker spoke of starting out in the Red Sox system and learning the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry early.

"It goes back to when I broke in in rookie ball," Walker told authors Harvey and Frederic Frommer for their book "Red Sox Vs. Yankees." "Every time we played the Yankee teams, the manager would try to get us up for them. From rookie ball to double A to triple A, I felt it."

Walker got his first look at the rivalry at the major league level in 1980, as a September call-up. He got into 19 games, including four against the Yankees. He went 12 for 57.

Walker then returned to the majors with the Red Sox over three of the next four years, but saw 13 games total.

He then signed with the Cubs as a free agent. He made the Cubs for 21 games in 1985 and then 28 games in 1986.

In 1987, he saw 47 games in Chicago and hit .200. He moved to the Angels for 1988 and saw 33 games.

The Angels returned him to the minors in July, after he batted just .154 over his 33 appearances. Walker expressed disappointment, but understanding at his demotion, noting his average compared to others' averages, according to The Los Angeles Times.

"But I feel I can do a lot more than some other guys on this team; I just never got the chance to play every day," Walker told The Times. "I was playing once a week, maybe two or three times every two weeks. I need to play every day before you can appreciate what I can do. But, I didn’t get the chance to show that."

Walker then returned to the minors for two full seasons. He played 1989 at AAA Syracuse and 1990 in the minors with the Cubs. His 1990 campaign saw the former major leaguer play a majority of his time back at AA, at Charlotte.

Walker returned to the majors to stay in 1991. He hit .257 over 124 games for the Cubs in 1991, then .289 over 126 games between the Cubs and Mets in 1992. The Mets selected him off waivers that May.

Walker saw one final season with the Mets in 1993. He hit .225 in 115 games to end his career in his 11th season with time in the bigs.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,169
Made the Majors:1,152-36.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,017-63.6%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 477-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:283

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