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All American Game | Story | 7/18/2019

Dream becomes reality for Walker

Cory Van Dyke        
Photo: Jordan Walker (Perfect Game)

HOOVER, Ala. – When Jordan Walker steps on the field, his 6-foot-5, 212-pound frame provides a physical presence that commands respect. The strength that he utilizes allows him to be a threat to send a ball into oblivion anytime he’s at the dish.

Apparently, that power has been there from a young age. Ask Walker his most memorable moment from his youth days of baseball and he recalls his powerful swing from tee ball.

“I hit a home run and I hit my grandmother’s car,” Walker said before taking the field for Team Elite 17u Scout Team at the 2019 WWBA 17u Elite Championship. “I think I broke a windshield or something. I don’t know why I remember that, but I just do. We were all laughing about it at the end. Just being here and getting to grow up and finally seeing where I am now, it’s unbelievable and I’m beyond blessed.”

A home run off a tee that shattered a windshield requires uber strength. Surely there was some embellishment to the story. Jordan’s father, Derek Walker, recalls the day as well, and hints that his son might have hyperbolized just a bit.

“The story grows,” Derek said with a chuckle. “I don’t think it quite hit [the car], but it was in the parking lot. They had the fence and then the grassy knoll and then up on the hill to the parking lot. The ball literally went out and bounced into the parking lot as it first touched down. 

“I think that was probably the first time where I said, ‘Wow, this kid has a lot of power.’ That was a fun day. A lot of people still come up to us nine years later and talk about that hit. That was a special one.”

Since those early days of youth baseball, Walker has transformed into the No. 13 overall player in the 2020 class and the No. 1 player in the state of Georgia. At the Perfect Game National Showcase in June, Walker continually made loud contact at the plate and ran a 6.56 60-yard dash. 

Fast forward over a month later and Walker was named to the 2019 Perfect Game All-American Classic set to take place on August 11 at Petco Park.

“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” Walker said. “I remember watching it as a kid on TV and just telling my family, ‘I want to be in that game.’ … Being an All-American means pretty much everything to me because that was my No. 1 goal as a child when I grew up to be a teenager.”

This won’t be the only time that Walker has been to San Diego, though. The rangy third baseman was named to the 2017 and 2018 PG Underclass All American Games that also took place on the West Coast. 

During his time out there, Walker and his father attended the All-American Classic both years, enjoying the scene and realizing that his moment on that field could occur sooner rather than later.

“Both times at the end of the game, we just sat there and we both were visualizing ‘Man, what would it be like for you to be out on the field in this game,’” Derek said. “That was a goal of his since then. He literally has recorded the last two year’s games and watched them probably two times a week, not an exaggeration. When he got the call that he made it, it was just unbelievable.”

As one can probably ascertain, Jordan noted that his father has been the biggest influence on his baseball career. Derek has been there through the highs and the lows, along for the ride from those days in tee ball to his current position on Team Elite.

“[My dad] pushes me even sometimes when I don’t agree with him when he pushes me,” Walker said. “All in all, I know he’s trying to help me, and in the end he usually is right with the stuff he says. I really want to thank him because he’s pretty much the source of everything I do and I love him.”

Walker shot up in the rankings after the National Showcase and there’s now serious talks of him being selected in the 2020 MLB Draft. You wouldn’t know that inside the Walker household, however. There’s no discussion of the rankings or expectations. 

“I really try not to think about that at all,” Walker said. “I know that if I get too worried about that, then my game will probably start getting affected by it. I just try to have fun during the game right now and whatever happens happens.”

Instead, the talks between father and son focus on the last game or what Jordan can do to improve his game or whatever he’s thinking about. It allows the Stone Mountain, Ga. native to stay grounded and avoid the pressure that many kids put on themselves in the process of pursuing their own baseball dreams.

“In all the kids we’ve had that have had that opportunity to go on and play professional baseball, Jordan’s one who just understands the role,” Team Elite coach Jamie Crane said. “He understands what he’s here for. He’s very humble with it, but at the same time he’s here to go to work. It doesn’t affect who he is. Jordan Walker is still Jordan Walker. That’s just a tremendous human being and a great teammate and a great kid.”

When Walker isn’t playing pick-up basketball with his friends at the park or studying Chipper Jones’ righthanded swing, he’s oftentimes studying the material that helps him garner a 3.9 GPA at Decatur High School. Academics is not taken lightly for Walker and Co. 

His mother teaches at the same high school he attends, holding three degrees and graduating from Harvard. His father is an MIT grad and joked that Jordan “didn’t have a choice” about whether or not to take his academics seriously. Walker has bought into the academic expectations, and it’s why he decided on Duke University when choosing a place to play baseball at the next level.

“Academics was pretty much everything for my parents, but also for me too,” Walker said. “I really wanted to go to a good academic school and I felt like Duke would be a perfect fit because they have a pretty good baseball team and I liked the coaches there. The academics speaks for itself… I’m just excited with what the future holds for me.”

That future ahead for Walker is bright both on and off the baseball field. It’s the ineffable joy he finds between the lines that creates a mild-wide smile and will keep Walker returning to the diamond wherever that may be in the years to come.

“Just being on a baseball field makes me the happiest I’ll be, more than doing anything else,” Walker said. “I just love being on the baseball field throwing the ball, hitting the ball. I’ve loved it ever since I was three when I started playing. That’s why I play the game. It just feels right to me.”

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