PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He used to be known as “The Pittsburgh Kid.”
Neil Walker was a Pirates favorite, but now he’s a New York Met. Monday was his first trip back to his hometown.
“I got to sleep in my own bed, which is nice, like it was mentioned we built a house here in the North Hills and I got to swim in the pool for the first time so that was kind of nice,” Walker said.
No one in cleats appreciated it more than #18, when the Pirates turned around the team’s history over the past few years.
“This is a place where I have a lot of great memories and great friendships off and on the field. I’ve bled black and gold for a long time and it will still run through my veins for a long, long time,” Walker said.
He was the hometown kid making it happen, and Monday he came home for the first time since donning the blue and orange of the Mets.
“He need to come back home and get this love you know,” said Evan Walsh.
Many feel he should never have left.
“I think he’s just a great hometown hero that we should have never let slip through our fingers,” one fan said.
Walker understands that feeling.
“Sometimes the business of baseball gets very ugly and in my case the end of my time here wasn’t very pretty,” he said.
Walker said the Mets and New York have embraced him.
As for the city…
“I’ve seen grass maybe three times since I’ve been in the city but we’ve enjoyed it, we’ve embraced it,” he said.
As for Monday night, he conceeds there are butterflies.
“Yeah definitely, there’s a lot of anticipation I just went to get these first couple of innings of of the way per se,” Walker said.
He said he’s proud of how he played when he was in Pittsburgh.
“Whether it’s a good reception, a warm reception or a not-so-warm reception, I think I can live with how I played here and the time that I spent and the relationship I have and love that I have for this city.”