30 years after he burst onto the scene, Wally Joyner sat down with the Angels to reminisce about the spectacular that was his rookie season.
A part of the 1986 AL West champion team, Joyner became the first rookie to be voted into the All-Star Game by fans. He ended the memorable season batting .290 with 22 home runs and 100 RBIs. He finished 2nd to Jose Canseco in A.L. Rookie of the Year Balloting.
He wasn’t just out of this world. He had a world of his own.
Joyner’s historic rookie season coincided with the premiere of the National Lampoon’s Vacation film in which a family takes a cross-country road trip to the California theme park, Walley World. Being an Angels fan favorite, he eventually influenced the phenomenon of Anaheim Stadium being unofficially renamed as ‘Wally World’.
“It was all due to the movie business, Chevy Chase and Vacation, Joyner explained. “It was all kind of like the perfect storm. I made the team and it was an unknown.”
“It first started when we went on a road trip and came back to Anaheim. I went up to hit and all of the sudden there was this big commotion in right field. We all stopped and all these fans, they unveiled a sign… I think Detroit was actually in town… it said ‘Detroit Tigers, Welcome to Wally World’. I could never imagine any of this.”
Amid the sensation’s growth, Joyner took his own road trip to Disneyland (the inspiration for mythical Walley World) for the happiest photoshoot on earth.
“It was awesome. It was unbelievable,” Joyner said. “This young man (speaking of Tim Mead, Angels’ current Vice President of Communications) was with me and we rode the rides together. It was the first time I had all the characters around me at 7:30 in the morning.”
“That (acting) is not what I do best,” referring to the photograph taken with the sword.
30 years after the dawn of Wally World, Joyner continues his third season as the Hitting Coach for the Detroit Tigers.