As a huge Cincinnati Reds fan since the days of Dave Concepcion, I was lucky enough to have been witness to the entire career of Barry Larkin. From the beginning to the end, he always felt like Hall of Fame material. Now, he is officially in the Hall of Fame and nobody deserves it more. The numbers are there and so are the accolades, but they are not the primary reasons I felt Barry was Hall of Fame material. He had other fine attributes that had nothing to do with statistics.
The Right Attitude From Day One
Barry was a pro the moment he stepped into our lives as fans. I recall an interview he did when he first started to take over for Dave Concepcion. He only spoke of the fact that he could learn from Dave, but you could feel that he wanted to take the job. He was too classy to say so and he knew that Concepcion was on the way out. He showed complete respect for his teammate the same way he would for his entire career with others.
Larkin Led By Example
When it came to leadership, Larkin did not have to huff and puff. He went out and worked hard, played the game right and showed everyone the right way to do things. He was a perfect example of leadership throughout his career and did so by walking the walk.
Larkin was there for Cincinnati
When it came to an autograph session, community project, commercial endeavors and even charity events, Barry Larkin was always there. When nobody else was attending you could almost always figure on Larkin being there. He was simply classy in that way. He always showed up when he made a commitment, and that is rare in the sports world.
Larkin Played as a Gentleman
In a baseball world where the old school way of doing things have passed us by in many ways, Larkin was a breath of fresh air. He played the game with respect and dignity at all times. He was much like Cal Ripken Jr. in that regard. He kept his cool and played the game with class. That was Hall of Fame worthy in my book.
He Made Me Want to Play the Game
There are a handful of shortstops out there that have been able to make me want to get out and play the game over the years. I grew up watching Concepcion and he certainly qualified. Ripken, Ozzie Smith and Derek Jeter followed after them. Larkin was certainly at or near the top of that list for this reason. He always inspired me to want to play. No greater compliment can be paid to a professional baseball player in my book.
*Southern is a life-long Cincinnati Reds fan that grew up watching Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and the boys dominate the Major Leagues. He longs for those days once again in Cincinnati.
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