Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Wall: Ohio Athletes

Congrats, to Barry Larkin the long-time SS of the Cincinnati Reds, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame over this past weekend. For this installment of Ohio Athletes, The Wall features the the 12x All Star and Baseball Hall of Famer.

Barry Larkin
Reds Legend
Barry Larkin, considered to be one the greatest players of his era, winner of nine Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Gloves playing his entire career (1986-2004) at the shortstop position for the Cincinnati Reds. Born on April 28 in 1964, Larkin grew up in Cincinnati and attend Moeller High School in Cincinnati. After High School, he would go on to play college baseball at the University of Michigan (ugh!), having his #16 retired by the school in May 2010. Playing only 177 minor league games in his professional career, Larkin was the 1986 Rookie of the Year and AAA Player of the Year playing for then the Denver Zephyrs (currently the New Orleans Zephyrs).

Battling it out with Kurt Stillwell, another highly profile player early on for playing time at SS, Larkin established himself as the starter for the Reds and in 1988 led the majors with just 24 strikeouts in 588 at-bats that season. The 1990 season was a special one for Larkin and his Reds teammates as #11 played a pivotal roll in upsetting the heavy-favored Oakland A's in the 1990 World Series (4-0 sweep). In the series, Larkin battled .353 in helping the Reds win their 1st World Series Championship since 1976. In 1991, Larkin became the 1st SS to hit 5 HR's in a two-game span. The winner of the 1993 Roberto Clemente Award, Larkin was one of those players that played the game the right way and made it enjoyable for the fans of the Queen City to come out and watch in the spring/fall chills and the dog days of summer. The biggest individual accomplishment Larkin achieved was winning the 1995 NL MVP award. With a .319 BA (6th in the NL) and second in stolen bases (51), became the first SS to win the NL MVP since 1962 (Maury Willis). Also, in 1995, Larkin lead the Reds to the NL Central Division title and to the NLCS, eventually losing to the eventual World Series Champs, Atlanta Braves.

Following, the 1995 season, he had a career-high in HR's in 1996 (33) and stole 36 bases, becoming the first SS to join the 30-30 and having a better season then his award winning 1995 MVP campaign. In 1997, Larkin was named the Reds Captain at the start of the 1997 season. In 1998, Larkin played along side his brother, Stephen Larkin, Bret Boone & Aaron Boone, setting the mark as the first time ever, two sets of siblings played together. Showing his loyalty to the Reds organization and city of Cincinnati, in 2000, Larkin blocked a blockbuster trade that would have sent him to the NY Mets. Since retiring in 2004, his #11 Reds jersey has not been issued out to any other player.

Larkin in his 19-year career, had a career battling average of .295, 2,340 hits, 198 HR's, 960 RBI's, 1,329 runs scored and 379 stolen bases. In 2008, he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and is considered one of the Top Ten SS of all-time, depending on who you talk to or read.

Since retirement, Larkin has worked in the front office of the Washington Nationals and MLB Network as a studio analyst. In 2011, he moved over to ESPN to become a Baseball Tonight analyst. Third times a charm, as it was his third year of eligibility to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012, becoming the 8th Reds player and 24th shortstop to be enshrined into Cooperstown. Barry Larkin resides in Orlando, Florida now a days, and you can caught him on Baseball Tonight on a nightly bases. Again, congrats to Barry Larkin for becoming the newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.