Barry Larkin (TRADING CARD DB)

Barry Larkin

This article was written by J.P. Garrett

Barry Larkin (TRADING CARD DB)Rare is the professional athlete who is privileged to play his entire career in his hometown. Barry Larkin is one of those rare athletes. Born on April 28, 1964 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Barry Louis Larkin played his entire 19-year major league baseball career with his hometown Reds.

Robert and Shirley Larkin raised their daughter Robin and sons Michael, Barry, Byron and Stephen on Elwynne Drive in the Cincinnati suburb of Silverton (where star NFL quarterback Roger Staubach also grew up 20 years earlier). The Larkin boys were multi-sport stars at Archbishop Moeller High School (the alma mater of other future Reds Buddy Bell and Ken Griffey, Jr., and current [2020] Reds manager David Bell), where Barry set a school record with a career batting average of .482.

Larkin earned a scholarship to the University of Michigan…for football, even turning down the Reds when they made him a second-round draft pick in 1982. Michigan coach Bo Schembechler and assistant coach Gerry Faust, who had just come from Moeller himself, were set to allow Larkin to play both sports at Michigan. But when Larkin was redshirted his freshman year, he turned his attention to baseball full-time.

How did Schembechler take the news? According to Larkin, when the freshman entered the legend’s office to tell him, coach pounded his desk and said, “‘Larkin, this is THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN!’ All the papers that were neatly [arranged] on his desk were flying all over the place. He … almost climbed over the desk … pointed at me and said, ‘No one comes to the University of Michigan and plays stinkin’ baseball!’”1

But Larkin did. “Barry was a star right away, but he was raw,” said Danny Hall, Larkin’s position coach at Michigan. “He had a good arm, but his hands and his feet weren’t as good. Once we started working with him, he picked it up right away because he was such a hard worker. He started at shortstop from Day 1…even Bo knew what Barry’s future was once he saw him play as a freshman.”2

Larkin chose the right sport: in 1983 he was named the Big Ten Tournament Player of the Year, he made the Baseball America Freshman First Team, and his Wolverines (including his future Reds teammates Chris Sabo and Hal Morris) advanced to the College World Series. They made a repeat trip to the CWS in 1984, when Larkin was named Big Ten Player of the Year and an American Baseball Coaches Association First Team All-American after leading the team in batting average (.363). He also previewed his future as a multiple Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner by being honored as both the team’s top defensive player and top hitter.

As if 1984 weren’t eventful enough for Larkin, he was also selected for the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, where baseball was a demonstration sport. Stacked with other future major leaguers such as Will Clark, Mark McGwire and B.J. Surhoff, the U.S. team fell to Japan in the championship game at Dodger Stadium.

“I was a sophomore, and most of the guys on that team were juniors,” [Larkin] said. “I remember not getting the opportunity to play, and that really fueled my fire because I felt like wasn’t playing because I was younger, not because I wasn’t better than who was out there…. I remember that being the point in my life where I said, ‘I just have to be better than everybody else.’ I think that’s when it really kind of clicked for me, and I really turned it on after that.’”3

He certainly did. His junior year, Larkin hit .368, won the team’s MVP award, repeated as Big Ten Player of the Year, and was named consensus First Team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association, Baseball America and The Sporting News. After the Wolverines lost to Will Clark’s Mississippi State Bulldogs in the South Regional of the College World Series, it was time for the Michigan graduate to turn his attention to the major leagues.

Conveniently, the Cincinnati Reds were looking for a shortstop to eventually replace 37-year-old Dave Concepción of Big Red Machine fame, and on the recommendation of legendary scout Gene Bennett, the Reds, with the number four overall pick in the 1985 draft, selected Larkin. He soon joined former Michigan teammate Chris Sabo on the Vermont Reds, who won the AA Eastern League Championship. Promoted to the Denver Zephyrs in 1986, Larkin garnered AAA Player of the Year honors and, after playing only 175 minor league games, made his major league debut with the Reds on August 13, 1986.

Which is kind of a funny story. Having endured a 12-hour flight from Denver fraught with delays, Larkin arrived at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium just 35 minutes before game time and with no equipment. “I had no bags, no nothing,” Larkin recalled. “I ran into [player-manager] Pete Rose coming out of his office and he jokes with me, ‘First day on the job and you’re already late.’ He hugged and congratulated me and asked me if I had any stuff.” When the answer came back, ‘No,’ Rose gave Larkin his bat and some baseball shoes. Larkin then proceeded to pinch-hit in the fifth inning and earned his first RBI in a Reds 8-6 victory over the San Francisco Giants. After the game, Larkin was prepared to take the manager’s equipment home as souvenirs, but when Rose stopped by Larkin’s locker and asked for the bat and shoes back, the rook had to oblige.4

Eventually Larkin’s equipment arrived, and he went on to start 36 games and appear in 41, but he was competing for shortstop against Kurt Stillwell, whom the Reds had drafted number 2 overall in 1983. Teammates Dave Parker and Eric Davis took Larkin aside and “imposed their will on me,” he said, reminding him “in a not so nice way” that he had “outstanding ability; let your talent take care of itself.” After that boost of confidence, Larkin entered manager Rose’s office and told him, “I like Kurt Stillwell, but if you don’t make me your shortstop, you’re making a big mistake. I’m the shortstop here for the next 15 years.”5

He was an accurate prophet (it was 19 years, actually). By 1987, Larkin was the starting shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, and in 1988 he led all major leaguers in fewest strikeouts (only 24 in 588 at bats). He also led the NL in errors (29), which prompted him to work harder on his defensive skills. An All-Star for the first time (in front of the hometown fans, as the game was held in Cincinnati), he also won the first of five consecutive Silver Slugger awards (.296/.347/.429) and stole 40 bases.

Larkin returned to the All-Star Game in 1989, but during the workout-day relay-throw competition, he tore an elbow ligament which sidelined him for the rest of season. The injury also hastened the elimination of the skills competition in future All-Star games. Despite playing in only 97 games that year, Larkin still won the Silver Slugger with a slash line of .342/.375/.446.

The 1990 season began a week late due to a brief lockout, though all 162 games did get played. A healthy Larkin appeared in his third straight All-Star game, and his .301 batting average and 30 stolen bases contributed to the Reds’ “wire to wire” lead of the NL West, setting them up for an NLCS showdown with the Pittsburgh Pirates. After dispatching the Pirates (and that year’s NL MVP, Barry Bonds) four games to two, the underdog Reds geared up to face the defending champion Oakland A’s. In what would turn out to be his only World Series appearance, Larkin batted an impressive .353/.421/.529 in the series as the Reds swept the A’s, and Larkin won his third straight Silver Slugger award.

As the 1990s began and the 1991 season dawned, the baseball world began assessing the starting shortstop on the reigning World Series champion team as the best in his position. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the best shortstop in the league now,” Reds Manager Lou Piniella said of Larkin, “and don’t forget he’s young [26]. He’s going to get better; he’s going to hit some home runs, too.”6

That was a bold statement from Piniella (who took over managing the Reds in 1990 after Pete Rose’s 1989 suspension from baseball), since Larkin wasn’t usually known for his home run-hitting prowess. Yet during the 1991 season, he not only hit 20 homers (his previous best had been 12 in 1987 and 1988), but on June 27-28, he became the first shortstop in MLB history to hit a total of five home runs in two consecutive games. Despite Larkin’s .302 batting average, participation in his fourth straight All-Star Game and fourth consecutive Silver Slugger award, the Reds lost their World Series crown, and Larkin was questioning both the team’s commitment to winning and his own willingness to stick around during a potential rebuild.

The off-season acquisition of pitchers Greg Swindell and Tim Belcher helped ease Larkin’s mind, and in January 1992 he signed a five-year, $25.6 million contract, making him the fifth-highest paid player in the league and the highest-paid shortstop. “’The things that happened this season definitely showed me that the team does want to win,” Larkin said at the time. “This is the kind of situation I want to be in.”7

Indeed, the situation suited Larkin, and for the 1992 season he once again batted over .300 (.304), his home run totaled settled back into familiar territory with 12, and he earned his fifth consecutive Silver Slugger award (a milestone for shortstops that still stands today). He did not, however, make the All-Star team, fueling his desire to return to the mid-summer classic in 1993.

But the season got off to a rough start when, in February, MLB suspended Reds owner Marge Schott for one year for using racial and ethnic epithets. As the highest-paid player on the team, and an African-American, such events often thrust Larkin into a reluctant spotlight amid calls he be the voice of a team and a community. “I had civic leaders calling me about organizing protests and picket lines,” he said. “It would have been a real bad situation.”8

Larkin wanted to avoid politics and just play baseball, a no-win situation that prompted some hate mail and a handful of death threats to the hometown hero. The controversy subsided as the season wore on, and Larkin received some good news in July as he not only made the All-Star team again, but for the first time was named to the starting roster. He also won the Roberto Clemente Award that year for his ongoing involvement in the Caring Program for Children. He had connected with the charity in 1990 and recruited a player from every other MLB team to join as well. Their donations stemmed from on-field performance and helped pay medical bills for needy children. “Our parents always stressed that you treat people respectfully, and you try to help people out when you can,” Larkin said. “It rubbed off.” That was essentially the apex of the year; new manager Tony Perez was out after only 44 games, and the Reds finished fifth in their division. Everyone looked forward to 1994, which was destined to be a better year.9

Barry Larkin (THE TOPPS COMPANY)It did start out that way for the Reds, who were in first place when the players’ strike ended the season on August 11. Larkin improved as well, making the All-Star team again (though he lost his starting spot to the returning Ozzie Smith), and he won his first Gold Glove award (which “The Wizard” Smith had collected 13 of the 14 previous seasons). The 29-error season was a distant memory, as Larkin led NL shortstops with 178 putouts and finished with a .980 fielding percentage. He was also named the winner of the 1994 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, given to the player who best exemplified the character of Lou Gehrig both on and off the field.

Delayed by the strike, the 1995 season finally began on April 26, and by July, Larkin had made his seventh All-Star Game, again as a starter, seemingly having supplanted Ozzie Smith for good. At the break, it had been the ascendant Larkin who kept the Reds on track through the season’s 0-6 start. “He is the heart and soul of this team,” Cincinnati manager Davey Johnson said. Reds first baseman Hal Morris concurred: “The real reason for what we’ve done is Barry. Everyone talks about how we have talent, but when you’ve got Barry Larkin you’ve got a talented team. It doesn’t matter who you put around him.”10

The team was talented, though, and the Reds won the new NL Central Division and swept the Dodgers in the NLDS before losing to the eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves in the NLCS (where Larkin batted .389). He won his second consecutive Gold Glove and picked up his first Silver Slugger since 1992. He had finished the regular season sixth in batting at .319 (.342 in the second half) and second in stolen bases with 51, respectable numbers that, surprisingly to many, helped earned him the 1995 National League MVP. The favorite going into the voting had been the Colorado Rockies’ Dante Bichette, who with a .340 batting average and league-leading 40 home runs and 128 RBIs, came within 28 points of winning the Triple Crown and within 30 points of winning the MVP. But it was Larkin’s leadership, combined with his stats, that made him the first shortstop to win the NL MVP since the Dodgers’ Maury Wills in 1962. (Even Larkin thought Bichette would win. He was on vacation when the news was announced, and told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “I thought the MVP would go to a guy like Dante Bichette because of the home runs … [b]ut I was wrong.”)11

According to teammate Bret Boone, “If you look at numbers, there are guys who have more homers and RBIs. But it’s nice to see people look at ‘most valuable.’ He was really great on our team. He was our leader.” Another teammate, lefty starter David Wells, agreed: “Barry’s just an unbelievable player — and person. He does it all, every day. He makes adjustments as the game goes on and sacrifices his game probably more than anyone we have for the good of the team. That’s what’s most impressive about him…. If you had 25 guys who took Barry’s approach on the field, you’d be unbeatable.” Added Reds manager Davey Johnson, “Some guys thrive under pressure. Barry’s one of those guys. Believe me, there isn’t a more valuable player in this league.”12

Being the reigning MVP has its perks, like when it’s time to renegotiate one’s contract. In December 1995, Larkin signed a three-year, $16.5 million extension with the Reds, a great deal of money to most, but not enough to many who believed 1) he could have gotten at least $6 million per year (or more) in the open market; 2) by not doing so, he cost other players millions of dollars; and 3) why in the world would he want to continue to play for one of baseball’s worst owners, Marge Schott?

Ever humble, Larkin simply said, “I didn’t get MVP money because I’m not that type of player…I do what a shortstop does. I didn’t undervalue myself.” He added, “I didn’t want to have to test the free-agent market…I’m happy here. The Reds have been good to me.” Others believe loyalty to his hometown community drove his choice, or his desire to allow the team to put the savings toward signing other players. Still others point to the unusual amount of influence he held with the front office, specifically with young General Manager Jim Bowden. “Barry is such a leader,” Bowden said, “and we’ve always had a close relationship. How many [other] GMs in baseball consult with their players?…This is Barry Larkin’s house. He’s as much a part of this organization as anyone else we have, including the owner or the GM or the manager.”13

Whatever the reasons, the pressure was on the reigning MVP to prove his worth, and he delivered with a season arguably surpassing 1995’s. His excelled despite the off-field drama of Reds owner Marge Schott incurring another long-term suspension, (this time for her observation that Hitler was “OK at the beginning…[then] he just went too far.”)14 A repeat All-Star starter and both Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner, in 1996 Larkin became the first shortstop in MLB history to join the 30-30 club with 33 home runs (a career high) and 36 stolen bases. But a .298 batting average and 89 RBIs couldn’t compete with the San Diego Padres’ Ken Caminiti, whose .326/.408/.621 slash line, 40 home runs, and 130 RBIs earned him the MVP for a season he later admitted was played while using performance-enhancing drugs. The game was beginning to change, and Larkin’s leadership was more important than ever.

That leadership was made official in 1997 when Larkin was named captain of the Cincinnati Reds, the first player to wear the “C” since the retirement in 1988 of the Big Red Machine’s shortstop, Dave Concepción. But the move had been made unofficially many years before. “It’s been that way ever since the departure of Eric Davis (after the 1991 season),” Larkin said. “The only difference is I have the ‘C’ on my uniform now and it is official.” But calf, heel and Achilles tendon injuries (the latter resulting in surgery) limited Larkin to only 73 games that season, the fewest since his rookie season of 1986.15

In March 1998 he underwent more surgery, this time for a perforated disk in his neck, but he only missed 17 games. In June he sought a trade to a winning team, with no takers — which was fortunate because it allowed history to be made in the last game of the season, against Pittsburgh. Larkin’s brother Stephen, who had been drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1994 and traded to the Reds organization in 1995, made his major league debut at first base, joining his brother, second baseman Bret Boone and third baseman Aaron Boone in the infield. This marked the first time in MLB history that two sets of siblings played on the field in a major league game at the same time. “It was nerve-racking,” Larkin said of the game. “I think I was more nervous than [Stephen] was. … I was just so excited for him and seeing his enthusiasm. It was fantastic. … I was just very appreciative of [GM] Jim Bowden creating that opportunity for us.”16

Larkin finished out the 1998 season with the Reds and won his eighth Silver Slugger award. In 1999 he was almost traded to Los Angeles, though he didn’t know it until afterward when a clubhouse attendant gave him the Dodgers jersey that had been made up for him for the press conference. Fortunately, Larkin stayed with the Reds, appearing in 161 games that season (the most in his career) on a team that finished 96-67 and just missed the post-season after losing a one-game playoff to the Mets. That year Larkin regained his starting spot in the All-Star Game and won his ninth (and final) Silver Slugger award, the most by any shortstop in MLB history.

Injuries hampered Larkin at the beginning (finger) and end (knee) of the 2000 season. In between, he was named an All-Star (his last time as a starter), got his 2,000th hit, and blocked a trade to the New York Mets — not because he didn’t want to go (he did; he enjoyed playing in Shea Stadium) — but because the Mets would not offer the 36-year-old a multi-year contract. He then signed a three-year, $27 million contract extension with the Reds, keeping Larkin in his hometown through 2003. (The Mets, by the way, went to the World Series that year, losing to the Yankees, while the Reds lost another one-game post-season playoff and went home.)

Perhaps the Mets were correct in their assessment of Larkin’s durability; he played in only 45 games during the 2001 season, struggling with a groin injury and then season-ending hernia surgery. Returning in 2002, his batting average hit a career-low .245 in 145 games while injuries to his shoulder, neck, rib cage, hamstring and toe bedeviled him the entire season. The 2003 season wasn’t much better: Larkin was limited to 70 games with calf injuries and strained contract negotiations with Reds ownership. COO John Allen offered Larkin $500,000 for the 2004 season and asked him to relinquish his captain designation. They eventually agreed on $700,000 with $300,000 in incentives, with Larkin remaining captain of the Cincinnati Reds for another year.

In 2004, Larkin attributed his lack of injuries to a more relaxed off-season training regimen. “This past year, I kind of took easy,” he said. “I have an 11-year-old son. With him, I played basketball and did a lot of running, and this is one of the most injury-free years I’ve had.” Larkin’s good health enabled him to play 111 games that season, bat .289, and be named to his final All-Star Game. He played his last game in Cincinnati on October 3, 2004, and formally announced his retirement at age 40 in February, 2005, after 19 years in the major leagues.17

Larkin has kept busy in retirement. He opened Champions Sports Complex in Orlando, a 92,000- square-foot player development and training facility for multiple sports. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of his wine, “Barry Larkin’s Merlot,” supports the Champions Sports Foundation. In 2005 he joined the Washington Nationals as special assistant to his former GM in Cincinnati, Jim Bowden, who even tried to get Larkin to come out of retirement to help the team on the field (he declined). In 2008 he was elected to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, then later that year joined MLB Network as a studio analyst. In 2009 he was the bench coach for the U.S. team during the World Baseball Classic, and in 2012 and 2016 he was named manager of Brazil’s WBC teams. Also in 2009, he was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame, followed in 2010 by retirement of his number 16 by the University of Michigan.

Larkin left the Nationals in 2011 to join ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” as an analyst. That year he also continued his world-wide baseball ambassadorship in the U.S. State Department’s Sports United Sports Envoy program, traveling to South Korea to meet with players and hold baseball clinics. He also traveled to Colombia, Ecuador, Lithuania, Taiwan, and India in this capacity.

Finally, in his third year of eligibility in 2012, Barry Larkin was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame with 86.4 percent of the vote. He was the 48th Hall of Famer and third Cincinnati Red to play his entire career with the same club (joining Johnny Bench and Bid McPhee).

Larkin described his HOF-caliber success as this: “No assumptions, no quick fixes, the willingness to put in the work, I think all the intangible things and the things that supported the Xs and Os. … It’s the approach to the game I’m most proud of. I considered myself a complementary player. My approach to the game was how do I help this team win as opposed to how do I get my numbers. That, in my opinion, is what I’m most proud of.” Added 1990 World Series teammate Eric Davis with a smile, “You’re in the Hall of Fame. There are no complementary players in the Hall of Fame.” Another 1990 teammate, Tom Browning, concurred. “He earned it…Of all the guys I ever played with or against, if I was starting a franchise, he’d be my shortstop.”18

According to former Reds GM Jim Bowden, Larkin “represented everything on and off the field that was right about baseball. A man of high character, Larkin was a leader, teacher, motivator, big brother and most of all, a winner. … Larkin mentored practically every young player during his tenure, from Aaron Boone to Sean Casey to Mike Cameron to Dmitri Young, among others. He knew when to give a teammate a kick in the butt, a pat on the back, a motivational lecture, a lesson on work ethic, or a tip on how to improve his fielding, hitting, throwing mechanics or base running. … When a player didn’t know how carry himself as a professional, Larkin taught him. When a player needed to work on his leads and breaks, Larkin was out early to work with him. As Casey once put it to me: Larkin was like having an extra coach and teacher on the field; it was always team first, Larkin second.”19

And how did Larkin himself feel about being the 24th shortstop in the Hall of Fame (and only the 11th elected by the BWAA)? “This is off the charts as far as something that I could even dream about [as a kid],” he said. “It’s been exciting. It’s been great. It’s been fantastic. It’s been humbling. It’s been all that. … Guys have told me that this is going to change my life. And I think it’s changed the perception people had of me and my career.”20

On Induction Day, July 22, 2012, Larkin’s daughter Cymber opened the festivities by singing the National Anthem. “And no, she did not get her voice from her daddy,” he joked at the beginning of his speech. Larkin congratulated his fellow inductees and after thanking the baseball writers and his family, thanked and gave credit to nearly everyone who contributed to his success in baseball and in life. To the many Latin players he had come to know, he extended his thanks in Spanish (Larkin began to learn the language in the minor leagues to better communicate with his teammates). He mentioned coaches from Little League to high school and college to the minor leagues, and even recognized the Stowe family, who have managed the clubhouses in Cincinnati for decades. He specifically thanked Pete Rose, Dave Concepción, and Lou Piniella as outstanding mentors early in his career.

Those mentors taught Larkin the importance of hard work, fairness, pride and respect — all of which he exhibited during his career — and he closed by sharing his insecurities and taking responsibility for his perceived deficiencies, an anomaly in today’s sports world.

“You know, as a player, I would often look in the mirror and question myself: Am I doing enough? Is there more? Could I do something a little bit different? Something better? Can I try harder? Is this the right thing to do? I ask myself that question because I took a lot of pride in representing not only myself and my family, the Reds organization, the city of Cincinnati. I admit and I realize that I wasn’t always the easiest person to deal with. I acknowledge that at times I acted out. I made plenty of mistakes. I didn’t always handle situations as best I could. I humbly appreciate your acceptance of me and my shortcomings and your continued support for me and my family. And for those questions I used to ask, well, no longer do I have to ask those questions anymore. The answer is forever written on my plaque in Cooperstown.”21

Larkin’s story is still being written. He flirted with potential managerial positions in Detroit and Tampa Bay and was inducted in the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. That year he left ESPN to re-join the Reds (who had retired his number 11 in 2012), this time as a roving minor-league instructor. And at the 2015 All Star Game, held at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Larkin was named one of the Reds’ “Franchise Four,” along with fellow NL MVPs Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan.

Twenty-five years after he won that MVP honor, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests, he questioned why the award was still named after Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the game’s first commissioner. “Why is it on there?” he asked. “I was always aware of his name and what that meant to slowing the color line in Major League Baseball, of the racial injustice and inequality that Black players had to go through.” Larkin hoped that the BBWAA board would vote to remove the name [which they did in October 2020]. “His name should not be represented on a plaque or award of honor, especially at this day and time,” he said. “If his name was taken off, I would not be opposed to it at all.”22

Larkin and wife Lisa raised Cymber (a singer who performs under the name CYM) and their two other children in Orlando. Brielle D’Shea (named after Shea Stadium) serves as her sister’s creative director, and Shane followed in his father’s footsteps as a professional athlete. In Shane’s youth, Barry recruited brother Byron, a hoops star at Cincinnati’s Xavier University, to break down film with Shane, accompany him to summer camps and AAU games, and provide intensive training and athletic development. The result? Shane played for five years in the NBA and is currently a member of the Turkish national basketball team.

Clearly, Larkins are natural coaches and leaders, something Barry continues well into his retirement. In the off-season, he provides private coaching in Orlando to minor leaguers, who call it “B-Lark University.” Past students have included Dee Gordon, Francisco Lindor, Jesse Winker, Dansby Swanson, and Bo Bichette.

Players of the past, present and future have — and will continue to — benefit from Larkin’s skills, knowledge and experience, as first noted by legendary Reds scout Gene Bennett. He called Larkin a “seven-tool” player, because “Larkin was above average in the following categories: running, hitting, hitting for power, throwing and fielding, as well as in makeup and leadership. Indeed, Larkin was the full package of athleticism, body control, range, first-step quickness, sweet-spot contact, rhythm, path to the ball, baseball intellect and instincts.”23

Added former Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker, “Barry not only was one of the most talented and gifted players, but he was one of the most intelligent on and off the field. He had great speed but had the ability to slow down the game, so he made very few mistakes. He is one of the few players who maximized the ability he was born with. Barry could do it all. He is the six-tool player all the scouts are looking for now, one with all the baseball skills plus intellect.”24

For a Hall of Famer with 2,340 career hits, 12 All-Star appearances, three Gold Gloves, nine Silver Sluggers, an MVP award, and was the first shortstop to join the 30-30 club, perhaps his greatest source of pride is playing his entire career in his hometown. “It was a special relationship. … It meant a lot to me. In retrospect, it means more now than it did when I was playing. … I’m very proud of the fact that I stayed there.” It’s also the sole place, if the opportunity arises, he wants to manage. “I only want to be in Cincinnati,” he says.25

Last revised: November 11, 2020



This biography was reviewed by Paul Doutrich, edited by Thomas E. Schott, and fact-checked by Kevin Larkin.



1 Thomas Neumann, “Barry Larkin talks Schembechler, Pete Rose,”, May 7, 2012.

2 Jay Morrison, “Hall of Fame calls Larkin,” Dayton Daily News, July 22, 2012.

3 Morrison, “Hall of Fame calls Larkin.”

4 Barry M. Bloom, “Before induction, Larkin visits HOF for first time,”, May 5, 2012, accessed June 14, 2020.

5 John Erardi, “Reds retire Barry Larkin’s No. 11,” Cincinnati Enquirer, August 26, 2012; Paul Daugherty, “Greatness of Larkin’s storied career stretches well beyond his numbers,”, July 22, 2012, accessed June 14, 2020.

6 Bob Hertzel, “Smith Now Takes Back Seat to Larkin,” The Sporting News, February 4, 1991.

7 “Larkin lands $25.6M contract,” The New York Post, January 20, 1992.

8 Geoff Hobson, “Larkin wonders where ‘game’ went,” The Cincinnati Enquirer, February 20, 1993.

9 Tom Weir, “Larkin’s other team pays the bills,” USA Today, April 8, 1993.

10 Gerry Fraley, “Beating the Oz: Larkin seeks long stay as top NL shortstop,” The Dallas Morning News,” June 18, 1995.

11 Ben Walker, “Larkin Tops Maddux, Bichette for NL MVP,” The Washington Post, November 16, 1995.

12 Larkin a surprise pick for NL MVP,” Oneonta Star, November 16, 1995; Lyle Spencer, “Davey barkin’ for Larkin,” The New York Post, October 5, 1995.

13 Bill Madden, “Safe at Home,” Sport, July 1996.

14 Rick Reilly, “Heaven Help Marge Schott,” Sports Illustrated, May 20, 1996; “Larkin, Reds agree on extension to 1999,” USA Today, January 3, 1996.

15 Tracy Ringolsby, “Larkin pays the price to play for Cincinnati,” Rocky Mountain News, April 1, 1997.

16 Neumann, “Barry Larkin talks Schembechler, Pete Rose.”

17 “Longtime Reds star Larkin wants to go out in style,” Oakland Tribune, June 10, 2004.

18 Rob Centorani, “Hall welcomes Cincinnati kid,” Oneonta Daily Star, January 10, 2012; Paul Daugherty, “Greatness of Larkin’s storied career stretches well beyond his numbers,”, July 22, 2012; “Reds teammates happy as a Lark,”, January 9, 2012, accessed June 22, 2020.

19 Jim Bowden, “Barry Larkin a true Hall of Famer,”, January 9, 2012.

20 , “Before induction, Larkin visits HOF for first time,”

21 Previous paragraphs from Larkin, Barry, “Hall of Fame Induction Speech,” July 22, 2012.

22 “‘A dark past’: MVPs say time to pull Landis name off plaques,”, June 30, 2020, accessed June 30, 2020.

23 Bowden, “Barry Larkin a true Hall of Famer.”

24 Nick Hurm, “Barry Larkin is in,”, January 9, 2012, accessed June 30, 2020.

25 Morrison, “Hall of Fame calls Larkin.” Zach Buchanan, “B-Lark University: Barry Larkin shapes young stars…until he’s ready to manage the Reds,”, January 18, 2018, accessed June 30, 2020.

Full Name

Barry Louis Larkin


April 28, 1964 at Cincinnati, OH (USA)

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