By Josh Kramer
The fairy tale story that is the baseball career of Barry Larkin will conclude in the most grandiose of style this afternoon. Only this is not a fictional story. This is Barry Larkin’s reality. We have known it was coming since mid-January, but it all becomes official this afternoon. It’s about time. And to think, if things had gone Marge Schott’s way, maybe we would be watching Kurt Stillwell getting inducted into the most exclusive fraternity of them all today. Just kidding.
Barry Larkin will get his call to the hall at 1:30PM this afternoon. Talk about a remarkable story both on and off the field. In Cincinnati, the legend of the Reds shortstop for the better part of two decades is quite well-known and only grows by the day (as it should). Larkin began his trek to Cooperstown as a superstar three-sport athlete at sports-crazed Cincinnati Moeller High School. While in high school, Larkin starred on the best summer league baseball team in all the land, the Midland Redskins. Many considered Larkin to be a better football player than baseball player. Larkin decided to take his talents to Ann Arbor and be a two-sport star for the Wolverines. Then the legendary Bo Schembechler made one of the biggest mistakes of his life and decided to redshirt Larkin. Sorry Bo. Barry never looked back to the gridiron.
For the better part of the past decade, Cincinnati has struggled to fill the monumental void left at short since the retirement of Larkin. Guys like Rich Aurilia, Felipe Lopez, Alex Gonzalez, Paul Janish, and Edgar Renteria have all tried their hardest. In actuality, they have only reminded the city just how privileged it was to have the services of Barry Larkin for nearly 19 years. It appears Cincinnati has finally found a solution to carry on the tradition of great Cincinnati shortstops via the likes of Zach Cozart. Time will tell.
Today is #11′s day in the sun. Barry was always a class act both on and off the field. The consummate professional. A hometown kid that went on to star for his hometown team for the entirety of his career. This doesn’t happen in this day and age (minus Joe Mauer). I hope that people can now understand the significance of the Barry Larkin story, in that a good portion of the city did not fully embrace it while he was still playing (myself included). As the majority of the country has noticed over the past four years during Barry’s broadcast career, not only does he really know the game, he is extremely well-spoken and will deliver a memorable speech.
Larkin embodies all that is right with the game of baseball. His numbers on paper will not leave you awestruck. Sure they rank favorably compared to most shortstops, but outside of 1995 and 1996, he never really had that ”wow” factor. His full body of work is the impressive part. Those that had the opportunity to watch him play understand why Barry will be receiving his official entrance into baseball immortality this afternoon. I could think of no better person to be on the podium today and having their plaque placed among the all-time greats. All fairy tales have to come to an end eventually. At least this one we know is real and will have a happy ending.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.