Call to Cooperstown

Barry Larkin reflects on his upcoming Hall of Fame induction during Tuesday’s conference call

July 17, 2012

On Tuesday afternoon, 2012 Hall of Fame Inductee Barry Larkin participated in his final media availability before journeying to Cooperstown. Here are some outtakes from that availability.

General Comments:

“Preparations have been good. I’ve had a couple other things that have kept me busy, doing stuff with ESPN and I have a daughter whose very busy herself. But preparations have been good.”

“I’m really excited about how many Reds fans are coming, because I’ve heard just about everybody in the world is going to show up.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing how many Reds fans will be up there. I know the Reds party will be fun. I know they are planning on doing something special up there.”

On growing up in Cincinnati and then playing for the Reds:

“I think when I first got back to Cincinnati was probably the hardest time (as a hometown player). I mean it was good being back home, and having all the Reds guys around, but there was some pressure from people I knew. Guys I went to high school with didn’t understand that the competition was a lot harder on the field than it was in high school.”

“There’s the added pressure that a guy that plays at home has to deal with, but all that is outweighed by being at home, being comfortable, being with family.” 

“I had tremendous support and great relationships with the fans.” 

“When the controversies did come up, they came to me for a response from the team… It was a struggle to deal with it sometimes. Those were some of the bumps that I was talking about, that I had to deal with playing at home.” 

“It was a special relationship (with the city). It meant a lot. In retrospect, it meant more now than when I was playing. When I was playing, it meant more about winning championships and getting into the postseason. We did that in 1990 and in 1994, we were right there and we went on strike.” 

“My dad came to every single game. My mom peeled off some at the end. I was just very comfortable in Cincinnati. I just enjoyed everything about it. Growing up in Cincinnati, I grew up a big Red Machine fan. I remember going outside and doing the Pete Rose slide or throwing my bat around like Tony Perez and doing the bounce throw on concrete like Davey Concepcion.” 

“Growing up, you always talk about, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to go down and play in that big stadium?’ And I did. But as a player you wanted to win. And I don’t know if I hadn’t had that opportunity, if I’d have stayed in Cincinnati… But I am really proud I stayed.” 

On the Induction Ceremony:

“It will be exciting. It will be emotional. It will be exciting. My daughter is going to be singing the National Anthem. (Hall of Fame) President Jeff Idelson heard my daughter singing and asked if she wanted to sing the national anthem. So I’ll be nervous for her. But it will be exciting.” 

“The speech has actually been done for a month now. I was very transparent as a player. My success is reflective of the support I received. And my speech is reflective of that.” 

On players who helped him early in his career:

“Ozzie (Smith) obviously inspired me. I watched him from the other side of the field, but Davey Concepcion is the guy – and Buddy Bell – that really helped me with my consistency and my approach. They were the guys working with me on a daily basis. When I got the big leagues, I still needed some fine tuning.” 

“Davey Concepcion helped me with positioning on the Astroturf. He taught me his patented bounce throw. He’d go to second base and let me throw to him for the double play. He’d go to first and let me throw to him over there. I couldn’t believe how much he helped me because he knew I was gunning for his job. 

“Davey helped me mostly during batting practice. Buddy helped me on the field. He would tell me to let him know when a breaking ball was coming and that would help me with my positioning, watching what he’d do… It helped me mentally because I really wasn’t a baseball player at that time.” 

On transitioning from football to baseball:

“It was a fairly long road and one with quite a few twists and turns. It started in Moeller (High School) and I really thought I was going to be a football player. I was better at football. But I had some opportunities playing baseball.” 

“When I went up to Michigan and just played baseball, we had some success early. We went to the College World Series and I felt like I was getting better every day. Then I got the chance to play on the Olympic team.” 

“I remember getting to a point when I just said; I have to be better than everyone else.” 

“I progressed very quickly, but it was more than just physical, it was mental. In ’83, that was really the first time I focused on baseball and thought of myself as a baseball player instead of just an athlete playing baseball.” 

“As a high school senior, I was thinking about baseball. I was a football player. I wanted to go to Michigan. I wanted to play football and I wanted to be a Wolverine…But it was hard to turn down the money.” 

On finishing his degree at Michigan after retirement:

“I went back because it was the right thing to do it. I do preach education and felt like it was something important for me to do. It was something I promised my grandmother I’d do. She has since passed, but I wanted to make good on that promise.”