Former MLB pitcher Tom Walker, father of Pirates' Neil Walker, dies

 October 24, 2023

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Tom Walker has died.

The 74-year-old, a fixture of the Pittsburgh Pirates community and father of Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, played six seasons in the major leagues.

Pitcher Tom Walker dies

Tom Walker debuted in 1972 with the Montreal Expos, going on to play with the Tigers, Cardinals, and Angels. Walker ended his career with a 3.87 ERA, 262 strikeouts, and an 18-23 win-loss record.

He joined the Pirates in 1978 but left after spring training.

The club paid tribute to Walker, a member of the Pirates' alumni group.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Tom Walker today. A long-time resident of Pittsburgh,  Tom was a part of our local alumni group and was always looking to make an impact on others in the Pittsburgh community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Walker family, including his wife Carolyn, daughter Carrie, and sons Matt, Sean, and Neil, in addition to his son-in-law Don Kelly and the Kelly family," the team said.

Devoted father

Those who knew Walker described him as a devoted father and a man of integrity.

"He was just a a wonderful, supporting dad," former Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He was proud of Neil, in all the right ways. Passionate about his family, first and foremost. He was very gracious and a pure gentleman."

In retirement, Walker became known as a member of the Pirates community through his son, who helped bring the team out of a long slump.

"My wife [Carolyn] and I saw all of it,” Tom Walker told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette following Neil's retirement. “It was 33 minutes from our home in Gibsonia to PNC Park. How lucky were we?”

Walker was impacted by the tragic 1972 death of Pirates legend Roberto Clemente, who perished in a plane crash in Puerto Rico while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Walker nearly boarded the doomed plane, but it was full.

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