“This is unbelievable. UN-STINKING-BELIEVABLE!” - Barry Larkin
In front of 44 Hall of Famers and a virtual sea of Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs fans, Barry Larkin headlined the 2012 Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
But...it almost didn't happen.
You see, when Larkin accepted a scholarship to the University of Michigan, it was football (not baseball) that he fancied.
"(Then-Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler) redshirted me my freshman year and told me that he was going to allow me just to play baseball," Larkin told the crowd at The Clark Sports Center. "Occasionally, I'd call him while I was playing in the big leagues and told him that was the best decision he made as a football coach. He didn't like that too much."
Larkin, a native of Cincinnati, played his entire career with the Reds and put together a .295 career average, 2340 hits, 1329 runs scored, 198 home runs, 960 RBI and 379 stolen bases. In 1995, Larkin was named the National League MVP. A year later, he became the first shortstop to join the 30-30 club with 33 home runs and 36 stolen bases.
The 12-time All-Star retired in 2004 after 19 seasons.
Joining Larkin on the stage Sunday was Vicki Santo...widow of the newly inducted Ron Santo.
"It just feels right, a perfect ending to a remarkable journey," Vicki Santo said. "Ron left an awful hole for many of us today. This is not a sad day. This is a great day. I'm certain that Ronnie is celebrating right now."
Santo was a member of the Chicago Cubs organization for the better part of five decades as a player (1960-74) and then beloved broadcaster (1990-2010). He was was selected by the Veterans Committee this past December...exactly one year after his death.
The former third baseman compiled a .277 batting average, 2254 hits and 1331 RBI during his 15-year big league career.
Some other news of note from Hall of Fame weekend courtesy of Bruce Markusen from The Hadball Times.
- According to reliable sources, actor Charlie Sheen was among those attending the induction ceremony. Sheen is good friends with Barry Larkin.
- Tom Seaver, normally a fixture at Hall of Fame Weekend, did not attend this year’s event. He has a painful hip condition that makes it difficult for him to fly.
- As expected, Pete Rose filmed a segment on Friday for his new reality show at T.J’s Place on Main Street. A film crew taped Rose having breakfast with his fiancee, Kiana Kim, and two Cooperstown locals, restaurant owner Ted Hargrove and memorabilia dealer Andrew Vilacky.