COVER

Getting started

SANDY FIFE October 12 1998
COVER

Getting started

SANDY FIFE October 12 1998

People

TANYA DAVIES

The Canadian hit man

Colorado Rockies star Larry Walker plays the outfield with reckless abandon, dying for fly balls and crashing into walls, so it is no surprise that he finished the major-league baseball season with debilitating back and elbow injuries. Those ailments hindered his swing, and the 31-year-old from Maple Ridge, B.C., was unable to match the astounding home-run and runs-batted-in totals that earned him the 1997 most valuable player award in the National League. Still, the banged-up

slugger reached an amazing milestone last week, edging former Toronto Blue Jay John Olerud for the NL batting title. Walker’s batting crown—he hit for a prolific .363 average—was the first won by a Canadian since St. Louis outfielder Tip O’Neill of Woodstock, Ont., hit a whopping .435 in 1887.

The title did not ease Walker’s disappointment that the Rockies finished fourth in the NL West. “The bottom line is we’re not going to the playoffs, regardless of what I did,” he says. “I won the MVP, that’s great. I won the batting title, that’s great. But I’m in this game to win a championship.” And Walker’s accomplishment was overshadowed by the epic home-run duel between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, which captured fans’ attention all year. McGwire, the hulking St. Louis first baseman who was the first to break Roger Maris’s 37-year-old home-run mark of 61, finished the season with an astounding 70, four more than Chicago outfielder Sosa.

But after he hit .366 last year, Walker’s 1998 title cements his reputation within baseball as one of the game’s most feared hitters—and surprises the man who did not hit better than .300 in the minor leagues. “I never in my wildest dreams imagined hitting .360 two years in a row,” Walker says. Given an off-season to heal, he may start dreaming of three in a row.

A harmonized life

To call Catherine Manoukian an overachiever is an understatement. The 17-yearold Toronto violinist made her first stage

appearance at the age of 4. She won the top prize at the Canadian Music Competition when she was 12, had her solo debut (with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra) shortly afterward, and made her European debut in Paris at 16. Her first CD, Elegies and Rhapsodies, was released in March, and she is recording another in December. The CBC is airing one of her recitals on Oct. 28, and next year she is booked for an eight-city tour of Japan. On top of all that, Manoukian skipped Grade 12, and she maintains an A average in school despite the fact that she must rely on e-mail instruction from her

teacher when she’s performing out of town. “I’m just a normal person,” insists Manoukian, who practises three to five hours daily. “I’m able to do all this because I’m organized.”

Manoukian grew up with the violin. Both of her parents, Heratch and Mariko, toured as solo violinists in Europe before moving to Canada. Manoukian first picked up the instrument at age 2, and when she was 6, her parents began teaching her (neither of her two older brothers play). At 13, she started travelling to New York City to study with renowned violin teacher Dorothy DeLay. In the past four years, she has performed in concert halls across North America. How does she respond to being called a child prodigy? “It’s OK, but it’s not what I call myself.” Which is? “A musician.”