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Barry Larkin Discusses Election to Hall of Fame

By C. Trent Rosecrans · January 18th, 2012 · Sports
Cincinnati has every right to call itself one of the great baseball towns in the United States — it’s the birthplace of the first professional team, home of one of the greatest teams of all time and home of some of the greats of the game. But currently there are no members of the Baseball Hall of Fame born and raised in Cincinnati. That will change on July 22 when Barry Larkin is enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y. 

In his third year on the ballot, the Baseball Writers Association of America elected Larkin — who grew up in Silverton, went to Moeller High School and was twice drafted by the Reds before spending his entire career in a Cincinnati uniform — to the Hall. During part of his whirlwind tour after his election Jan. 9, he made a stop for a press conference in his hometown (Larkin now lives in Orlando), appearing at Great American Ball Park alongside his parents, wife and two of his three brothers. Afterward, he spoke with CityBeat about his election and his time as a Red.

CityBeat: Does it make it more special that you spent your entire career with one team and even more special that it was in your hometown?
Barry Larkin: Absolutely. The one time that I thought (I might leave the Reds) was with the Mets around 2000. ... Fortunately, they were only willing to give me a one-year deal because they had Jose Reyes coming up and they didn’t want to commit to a multi-year contract. … 

I ended up re-signing here, but at the time it was very uncomfortable, but I’m glad it happened. I was glad I was able to complete it here — it just didn’t feel right for me to play in another uniform. 

Actually, after the 2004 season, I wasn’t really sure if I was done (in Cincinnati) and I had a couple of offers. I had one offer from St.

Louis. I remembered Tony La Russa called me up and said, “Wouldn’t you like to come and play alongside Scotty Rolen and hit in front of Albert Pujols?” I said, “Tony, I gotta tell you, I grew up thinking Cardinal red was the wrong shade of red.” 

Then I went to work in the Nationals’ front office in 2005 and Jim Bowden asked me to come down and work out and just see if I felt like I wanted to do it. 

I remember being out there and I had a uniform and everything, but it wasn’t Cincinnati on the front and I didn’t feel like I could give my heart and soul to any other organization.

CB: When did you first think about the Hall of Fame and the possibility of being inducted? When does that enter into your mind?
BL: To be quite honest, every year for the last three years, around induction time or announcement time, is when I think about it. That’s really the only time. 

I was talking to Chuck Harmon about this — as a player, an athlete, you dream about being an All-Star, you dream about winning a Gold Glove, being an MVP, winning the World Series. He told me, “You don’t dream about being a Hall of Famer.” You want to be one of the best, for sure, but you don’t dream about being a Hall of Famer. ... I certainly dreamt about being one of the best and winning. Hall of Fame? That was almost taboo.

CB: Was there any disappointment the last couple of years when you didn’t get in, when you thought maybe there could be a call?
BL: You know? Honestly, I was talking to my wife and kids about this — this year would have been the first year where I would have been maybe a little disappointed, simply because of all the buildup and the media stuff being said of my candidacy. Because the fact that there wasn’t another strong candidate, which is what was being reported, because I was 60-or-whatever percent and needed to jump 14, 15 percent (in the voting) or whatever it was. 

So this year would have been the first year I think I would have experienced a little disappointment. But it would have been, “Ah, OK. Hopefully we’ll get a little closer next year.’ ” It never was “I should be in there.” I mean, look who’s in there — it’s like now I’m a teammate of Babe Ruth. I’m a member of that club. For me, you laugh, and that’s my reaction. It’s like “Really?” It’s absolutely, absolutely incredible.

CONTACT C. TRENT ROSECRANS at letters@citybeat.com, ctrent@cnati.com or on Twitter @ctrent



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