The Obit For Erik Walker

Renegades pitcher's body found in river

By The Associated Press

October 27, 2006

Independence, Va. — The body of a Hudson Valley Renegades pitcher missing after his canoe capsized over the weekend was found yesterday.

Erik Walker was last seen Saturday with a female companion, who made it safely ashore after their canoe tipped in a swift stretch of rapids filled with underwater logs, boulders and ledges on the New River.

Hundreds of people helped in the search for the 23-year-old Walker, a relief pitcher with the Renegades, a short-season Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays based in Fishkill, N.Y.

His body turned up in the same stretch of river where the canoe capsized.

"Water levels had dropped and water clarity had improved sufficiently for us to find him," Virginia game warden Jason Harris said in a statement yesterday.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Walker family," Mitch Lukevics, director of minor-league operations for the Devil Rays, said in a statement. "We came to know Erik as young man who played baseball the same way he lived his life, full of enthusiasm, passion and joy. He was a good player, a good person and a great teammate. He was exactly the kind of individual we would want wearing our major-league uniform."

The 6-foot-4 right-hander went 3-1 with seven saves and an ERA of 0.48 this past season with the Renegades.

Walker, of Clemmons, N.C., was a former star pitcher at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.