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Reds, city leaders honor Barry Larkin

CINCINNATI -- Spending his entire 19-year career with his hometown team makes election to the Hall of Fame even more special for Barry Larkin.

Speaking Wednesday at Great American Ball Park, his home field for the last two years of his career, Larkin recalled almost leaving the Cincinnati Reds for the New York Mets in 2000. But the proposed trade fell through when the Mets refused to give him a three-year contract extension.

Larkin considered playing for St. Louis or Washington in 2005, but he couldn't leave.

"I didn't feel like I could give my heart and soul to another organization," Larkin said.

Members of the Reds' organization, former players and politicians were on hand to welcome the franchise's newest Hall of Famer. Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory presented Larkin with a copy of a resolution congratulating him that was approved Wednesday by the city council. Hamilton County commissioner Greg Hartmann added praise.

"At a time when role models are few and far between, Barry Larkin stepped up for 19 years," Hartmann said.

Sharing the stage with Larkin was what Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman described as the "first family of Cincinnati" -- Larkin's wife Lisa, parents Shirley and Robert and two of his three brothers, Stephen and Byron.

Also on hand were Larkin's coaches at Moeller High School -- which also produced major leaguers such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Buddy Bell -- and the scout who signed him. They were all part of a large support group Larkin credits with his success. He is planning an event for ometime during the season.

"We're still setting up how we want to celebrate this induction with the city," Larkin said. "I'm really looking forward to that day. I've been incredibly blessed, and I want to celebrate that."

The Reds also plan to honor Larkin with a special night during the season, and the team's Hall of Fame and museum is putting together an exhibit. Larkin also said he anticipates that his uniform number 11 will be officially retired. Nobody has worn the number since Larkin's last season in 2004.

"I'm sure they'll get around to it at some point," he said.

Wednesday's visit extended what Larkin said had been an "absolute blur" since he was elected Monday by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.