Being born in Cincinnati, he represented his hometown perfectly.
He was a perennial All-Star candidate, developing himself into one of the best shortstops in both his generation and baseball history.
Larkin quickly established himself as an all-around threat on the field.
Defensively, he was a swift and adept fielder that took home multiple Gold Glove Awards.
Barry Larkin made these plays look routine pic.twitter.com/AOFgEPp3Bc
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) June 24, 2021
Meanwhile, he stood out even more offensively as he was one of the league’s best.
All of this contributed to a long career that ended with a plaque in Cooperstown.
Here is a look at the complete career story of Larkin, along with where he is today.
Destined For The Majors
Before he entered college, Larkin was a successful football player alongside his accomplishments on the baseball diamond.
Because of his talents, he accepted a scholarship to the University of Michigan where he eventually elected to focus on just baseball.
This would prove to be the right move.
He was named as an All-American twice, also winning the Big Ten Player of the Year award in back-to-back seasons.
His accomplishments as a Wolverine propelled him to become the Reds first-round draft pick in 1985, going fourth overall.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 3, 2017
From there, Larkin entered the minor leagues and quickly shot through the organization.
He was viewed as a refined prospect that would be playing for the Reds in just a few years.
The team’s hope was that Larkin would fill the hole left by Reds legend Dave Concepción, who was 37 when Larkin was drafted.
Ultimately, he gave the team little to worry about.
In 1986, Larkin won the Triple-A Player of the Year award after batting .329 and slugging 10 home runs.
Later that season, he was called up to the majors to make his debut with the Reds after just 175 minor league games.
The young Larkin would go on to start slowly over his first two seasons with the Major League club.
He hit .283 in his rookie campaign, with his average dropping to .244 the next season.
However, this would just be a quiet beginning for a long career of success.
Larkin Becomes Face Of The Reds
In 1988, at just 24-years-old, Larkin finally made a breakthrough at the plate.
This resulted in his first career All-Star appearance, as he hit .296 with 12 homers.
He did not stop there, following it up with an even better 1989 season that saw him raise his average to .342.
This marked the start of five straight seasons with a batting average above .300, with the shortstop earning various awards and honors along the way.
However, Reds fans will always recognize his role on the 1990 World Series team.
He elevated his game in the franchise’s four-game sweep over the Oakland Athletics, hitting .353 and helping cement his legacy among Reds shortstops.
While the organization would have little more postseason success during his era, he continued to improve.
After the strike-shortened 1994 season, Larkin came out with a renewed focus in 1995.
He was a blend of adept contact hitting and speed that dominated in an era when power was becoming the sport’s focus.
In that season, he hit 15 homers, had a .319 average, and added 51 stolen bases on his way to winning the MVP award.
The next year, his power numbers surged even more as he slugged 33 home runs and stole 36 bases.
While he never quite topped those numbers, the rest of his career was still bolstered by success.
May 27, 1997: Barry Larkin sets a modern Reds record by reaching base for the 13th consecutive plate appearance when he singles off Curt Schilling. He tallies six singles, a double, one triple, four walks and a HBP during his streak. #RedsVault pic.twitter.com/M7v7b8X8f1
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 27, 2020
He remained as a cornerstone of the Reds’ lineup until his retirement in 2004, a season where he was voted as an All-Star.
It was not just his play on the field that earned him a positive reputation in the sport.
Larkin was a phenomenal character that was recognized multiple times by the league.
He was a true representative for the city throughout his career.
Larkin Books Trip To Cooperstown
By the end of his career, Larkin amassed numbers that were impressive.
He totaled 2,340 hits, 198 home runs, 379 stolen bases, and a .295 career average.
Along with this, he won three Gold Gloves despite playing much of his career against Ozzie Smith.
His sabermetric numbers also stand out among Hall of Fame shortstops.
⚾ 12-time All-Star
⚾ 1995 National League MVP
⚾ Nine-time Silver Slugger Award winner
⚾ 2012 @baseballhall inductee
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 20, 2018
With a 70.5 career WAR (Wins Above Replacement), he rates higher than the average Cooperstown shortstop.
Put all of this together, and it was clear that Larkin was a deserving candidate for the Hall of Fame.
In 2012, his third year on the ballot, he earned 86.4% of the vote to be enshrined.
It was the peak accomplishment for a hometown kid that dedicated his career to the city that he grew up around.
Since retiring, Larkin has stayed close to the game.
Right after he hung it up, he accepted a position as a Special Assistant to the General Manager of the Washington Nationals.
He remained in this position even as he joined MLB Network as a studio analyst in 2008.
Larkin also served as the bench coach for the United States during the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
In 2011, he left his job with the Nationals to become an analyst for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight broadcast, where he remained as a contributor for the show.
Despite being rumored to be interviewed for several managing positions, Larkin has yet to become a coach at the Major League level.
In 2021, he joined the Reds’ broadcast and can be found in the booth during their games.
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) July 20, 2021
It reflects a consistent theme throughout Larkin’s life: he represents Cincinnati with a passion.
The hometown hero was a constant source of pride for the city during his 19-year career, continuing to give back even today.