Larry Walker will have to wait for his final year on the ballot to potentially claim a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Those who know Walker aren't concerned that time is running out for the 1997 National League MVP from Maple Ridge, B.C., and they're excited about what his potential Hall of Fame nod could mean for Canadian baseball.
"He brought attention to the game in Canada while he was playing and if he gets into Cooperstown — when he gets in, I should say — it's going to bring more attention to baseball in Canada again," said Scott Mathieson, a pitcher with Japan's Yomiuri Giants who grew up in Vancouver.
"It could lead to more kids signing up for baseball again, wanting to be like Larry Walker. We've had a lot of good Canadian players but he's one of the best ever.
"He definitely should be in (the Hall of Fame). He's been overlooked many times now and it's frustrating to see that."
Walker, a career .313 hitter over 17 seasons, received 54.6 per cent of the votes Tuesday in his ninth year on the ballot. While he fell short of the 75 per cent required for induction, his 2019 tally was a significant jump from the 34.1 per cent Walker received in 2018.
So far, Fergie Jenkins is the only Canadian-born player in Cooperstown. The Chatham, Ont., native went into the Hall in 1991 and Walker is still hoping to join him.
"Pretty awesome jump up to 54.6!! Guess I will watch again next year for the last time," Walker tweeted Tuesday night. "Fingers crossed in joining the great Fergie Jenkins."
Mathieson, a former Phillies prospect, spent his formative years in the B.C. Premier League, often pitching on Larry Walker Field in Port Coquitlam.
He said Walker had a big impact on his early love for baseball.
"That's who everyone looked up to," the 34-year-old right-hander said. "I watched a lot more baseball because of him. His highlights were always on TV, his name was thrown around, and playing at the field named after him was always a big deal."
Amanda Asay, a pitcher/catcher with Canada's women's baseball team, felt the same way.
"I don't think you can be a Canadian baseball player and not be a fan of Larry Walker, especially when you're from B.C.," Asay said. "He was making his big splash in the majors when I was a little leaguer so there was always talk about Larry Walker.
"He's been the pride of B.C. baseball players for a long time. We've had quite a few that have made big impacts in the majors but it all really started with him."
Walker, now 52, signed with the Expos as an amateur free agent in 1984, five years before Canadians were first eligible for the MLB draft.
He made his MLB debut in 1989 and played six seasons with Montreal before signing a free-agent deal with Colorado, where he spent most of his career.
Voters have pointed to Coors Field, the notoriously hitter-friendly home ballpark of the Rockies, as a reason to hold Walker out of the Hall of Fame.
Asay doesn't think that's fair, though.
"It's weird to punish a player because that was his home field," she said. "It was a good place to hit but he was the only one putting up those numbers at that time. ... and there are other ballparks that are easy to hit in as well, so that shouldn't keep him off the ballot.
"It didn't keep him from winning the MVP and getting other accolades so I don't think it should keep him out of Cooperstown either."
Asay has yet to meet Walker in person but the five-time all-star sent the women's team a video in 2016 ahead of their gold-medal matchup against Japan at the Women's Baseball World Cup.
"He said the Baseball Canada community was proud of us to make it that far ... and he told us to go out there and put a golden cherry on the top of that sundae," Asay said of the message. "That was pretty cool. It was pretty neat to see him care like that."
Mathieson met Walker at a Baseball Canada banquet years ago and was reunited with him in 2013 when the seven-time Gold Glove outfielder served as a coach for Canada's World Baseball Classic team.
"It's pretty cool to get to meet someone who you idolized growing up," Mathieson said. "Not all the time those guys turn out to be good guys but he's the exception.
"He's a super star, he should be a Hall of Famer."