Barry Larkin is headed to Cooperstown.
The rare power-hitting shortstop of the Cincinnati Reds was the lone player elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
It was Larkin’s third year on the ballot and he was the only player to reach the 75 percent mark that’s needed for a player to earn induction into the Hall of Fame.
Larkin will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who was posthumously elected into the hall last month. Also being honored on July 22 in Cooperstown will be Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun (J.G. Taylor Spink Award) and former Major League catcher turned analyst Tim McCarver with the Ford C. Frick award for broadcasting.
Before the Derek Jeter, Hanley Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez’s of the world, there were two guys: Barry Larkin and Baltimore Orioles’ shortstop Cal Ripken who changed the once defensive-oriented position into one of offensive prowess.
“I can’t wait to see, in July, how much red will be in Cooperstown,” Larkin said in a conference call with reporters.
And it looks like there will be an impressive sea of red in the small upstate New York town since Larkin was the only Hall of Fame worthy candidate on the on the ballot this year, according to voters.
“That was really surprising,” Larkin said of his strong showing on ballots. “You know…I don’t know how things changed, but you know what, I am just so, so pleased and happy with everything. And I was really surprised, the 86% is a very high number, but I am so thankful to everyone who voted and everyone who supported me.”
Larkin, 47, was a 12-time All-Star, nine-time Silver Slugger award winner and a three-time Gold Glove winner. He was the National League MVP in 1995.
The shortstop started his impressive career in 1986, playing in 46 games for the Reds. In 19 seasons, he hit .295 with 198 home runs and 960 RBI, and his most productive year came in 1996 when he hit 33 home runs.
Only three other players were able to gain more than 50 percent of the vote: former pitcher Jack Morris (66.7), first baseman Jeff Bagwell (56%) and reliever Lee Smith (50.6%).
Other notable players that didn’t make the cut were Mark McGwire (19.5%), Don Mattingly (17.8%), Rafael Palmeiro (12.6%), Bernie Williams (9.6%).