Barry Larkin elected to Hall of Fame

Updated: January 9, 2012, 9:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Barry Larkin was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Monday with plenty of room to spare.

The former Cincinnati Reds shortstop was chosen on 495 of 573 ballots (86 percent) in voting announced by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, well above the necessary 75 percent. Larkin was on the ballot for the third time after falling 75 votes short last year.

"I was absolutely shocked," he said in an interview with ESPN's "SportsCenter" on Monday.

Larkin, who currently is an ESPN baseball analyst, said he expected to get the call from Hall of Fame, if he was elected, at 1:30 p.m. ET. But he didn't receive a call until 2:50.

"I was absolutely floored," he told ESPN when asked about his reaction upon receiving the call. "I'm just so, so proud."

He will be inducted July 22 in Cooperstown along with the late Ron Santo, elected last month by the Golden Era Committee.

"It's baseball immortality. It's the pinnacle. It's like winning the World Series," Larkin told ESPN of his election.

Playing from 1986-04 -- all with his hometown Reds -- Larkin hit .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 2,340 hits and 379 stolen bases. A 12-time All-Star, he won the 1995 NL MVP award, three Gold Gloves and the 1990 World Series. In 1996, he became the first shortstop to have 30 homers and 30 steals in a season.

In addition to his Little League, high school and college coaches, Larkin credited late Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, who recruited him out of Cincinnati and then redshirted him as a freshman.

"I was a better football player than a baseball player at the time," Larkin said in a conference call. "I just worked on my baseball talent, just that alone. That was an eye-opener because I got so much better."

Jack Morris was second with 382 votes (67 percent), missing by 48 votes on his 13th try but up sharply from 54 percent last year. The pitcher has two chances left on the BBWAA ballot, and no player has received such a high percentage without eventually gaining election.

Jeff Bagwell was third at 56 percent, followed by Lee Smith (51 percent), Tim Raines (49 percent), Alan Trammell (37 percent) and Edgar Martinez (37 percent).

Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home run list with 583, received 19.5 percent in his sixth try, down from 19.8 percent last year and 23.7 percent in 2010 -- a vote before he admitted using steroids and human growth hormone.

Bernie Williams received the most votes (55) among players who were eligible for the first time. Bill Mueller got just four votes and will be dropped in future years, along with Juan Gonzalez (23) and Vinny Castilla (six).

Next year's ballot figures to be the most controversial, with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling eligible for the first time.

Larkin got 52 percent when he appeared on the ballot for the first time in 2010. He received the largest single-year percentage increase to gain election since 1948, when pitcher Herb Pennock was elected with 77.7 percent, a year after finishing with 53.4 percent.

Larkin told ESPN that when he first appeared on the ballot, the Hall of Fame was a "far-fetched idea for me." But as his contemporaries gained entrance into the Hall of Fame, "it became a little more real for me."

He is the 48th Hall of Famer who spent his entire career with one major league team and the third from the Reds, joining Johnny Bench and Bid McPhee.

Larkin broadcast for MLB Network from 2009-10, then moved to ESPN last year. He's a spring training instructor for the Reds, and has gone to South Korea and Brazil as an envoy for Major League Baseball and the State Department.

Larkin's son, Miami freshman guard Shane Larkin, had just returned from basketball practice for Tuesday's game against No. 3 North Carolina when he turned on the TV in his hotel room and learned his dad was a Hall of Famer.

"I did a little dance in the room, because he finally got what he deserved," Shane Larkin said in a phone interview from Chapel Hill, N.C. "I know it's a big relief for him. It's something he has been waiting on."

The past two years, Shane was home with his dad in Orlando, Fla., when the voting results were disclosed.

"Every year they've been at the house in the backyard with a TV camera, and as soon as it's announced, they've showed his face," Shane said. "This year his expression was what we were looking for."

Rafael Palmeiro, among just four players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray, got 72 votes and his percentage increased to 12.6 from 11 last year in his first appearance. Palmeiro received a 10-day suspension in 2005 for a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, claiming it was due to a vitamin vial given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada.

Gonzalez, a two-time AL MVP implicated by Jose Canseco in steroids use, received 30 votes last year, just above the 5 percent threshold for remaining on the ballot.

In 2014, the focus will turn to elite pitchers when Greg Maddux (355 wins) and Tom Glavine (305) become eligible. Among pitchers eligible for the Hall, all 20 of the 300-game winners are in.

Morris finished with 254 victories and was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s. A postseason star, he was the ace of three World Series winners but is burdened by a 3.90 career ERA.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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