- Height: 6'0"
- Weight: 190 lbs.
- Date Of Birth: April 28, 1964
- Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
- College: University of Michigan
- Mascot: Wolverine
- High School: Moeller High School
- Position: SS (shortstop)
- Bats: Right
- Throws: Right
It is never an easy task to try to fill the shoes of a great player. The fans have come to expect nothing short of solid, productive performance and, no matter how unfair it might seem, they expect the “new guy” to do the same. Barry Larkin is the perfect example of a player who filled the shoes given to him, and filled them with style.
Larkin was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH. Living in Cincinnati at the time he did, he certainly was one of many who were mesmerized by the feats of the legendary Cincinnati Reds team, the “Big Red Machine.” It is said that at an early age Larkin determined that he was going to be the one to take over for Dave Concepcion, longtime Reds shortstop, and Larkin’s boyhood idol.
Larkin had that opportunity straight out of Moeller High School in 1982 when the Reds drafted him, a three-sport star, in the second round. However, he decided to take his game to the college level and attended the University of Michigan. After developing his game for three years at Michigan, including a very successful stint on the U.S. Olympic team in 1984, Larkin was again selected by the Reds in the 1985 draft with the fourth overall pick. This time around, Larkin decided he was ready.
Larkin had a very brief stay in the Minor Leagues and he made his debut with the Reds in August of 1986. He played 41 games that year and began the 1987 season involved in a fierce battle with fellow shortstop prospect Kurt Stillwell. Perhaps due to the pressure, Larkin struggled that year, finishing with a .244 batting average, 12 home runs, 43 RBI’s (runs batted in) and 21 stolen bases. However, Reds ownership apparently liked what they saw out of Larkin because they traded Stillwell to Kansas City.
It became evident rather quickly that the Reds had made the right choice, because in his first year as the Reds’ starting shortstop Larkin batted .296 with 12 home runs, 56 RBI’s, and 40 stolen bases. The one blemish was the fact that he also led the league that year with 29 fielding errors. However, later in his career Larkin won the National League Shortstop Gold Glove Award three years in a row, from 1994 – 1996.
Over the next 16 years Larkin established himself as one of the best shortstops in the game. He helped the Reds shock the world with a sweep of the Oakland Athletics in the 1990 World Series; he won the 1995 National League MVP, was selected to the All-Star Game twelve times, became the first shortstop in Major League history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season, and before the 1997 season he was named the Reds’ captain.
Larkin retired from playing baseball after the 2004 season, having played all of his 19 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. Known as an outstanding leader and a fierce competitor, Larkin had his share of confrontations with the Reds’ front office. However, this never hindered the love Reds fans had for him. He was always a fan favorite. When it surfaced later in his career that Larkin was seeking a trade, fans showed support by bringing signs to the ballpark. One sign read, “Say It Ain’t So, Barry.” Larkin not only filled the shoes given to him, he forever captured the heart of his fans.
Career Highlights, Awards, and Accolades:
- Member of 1984 U.S. Olympic Team.
- 1995 MVP of the National League (NL).
- Twelve-time NL All-Star – 1988-1991, 1993-1997, 1999, 2000, 2004.
- Three-time NL SS Gold Glove winner – 1994-1996.
- Nine-time NL SS Silver Slugger winner – 1988-1992, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999.
- Became the first SS in Major League history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season (1996).
- 1993 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award.
- 1994 winner of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.
- Stole a career-high 51 bases in 1995.
- Finished career with a .295 batting average, 2,340 hits, 198 home runs, 960 RBI’s, 379 stolen bases, and 441 doubles.