A career platoon player, Walling reached Houston’s all-time lists in games played, batting average, and slugging average despite never batting as many 400 times in a season. He also became Houston’s all-time leader in pinch hits. A consensus All-American and Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year at Clemson, Walling went directly from college to Oakland in 1975. He was traded to Houston for Willie Crawford and cash in 1977, having played just nine games with the A’s.
A versatile, lefthanded hitter and righthanded thrower, Walling was initially used primarily at first base and in the outfield but began playing mostly third base in 1984, platooning with Phil Garner. Walling led the Astros (350 or more at-bats) with a .312 batting average and set career highs in almost every offensive category. His home run was the winning blow in Mike Scott‘s 1986 pennant-clinching no-hitter. A tough batter to strike out, Walling was one of a handful of national league players to spend ten straight years with one club from 1978 to 1987. He was finally dealt to the Cardinals for Bob Forsch on August 31, 1988.