Former Red Larkin is latest in Hall
LOS ANGELES — With Hall of Fame voters confronting the ultimate tests of their standards next year when Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens appear on the Hall of Fame ballot, they elected a safe, clean new addition Monday in 12-time All-Star and 1995 Most Valuable Player Barry Larkin.
Larkin, 47, a 19-season veteran (1986-2004) shortstop who played exclusively for his hometown Cincinnati Reds, received 86 percent of the vote in his third season of eligibility.
"It was absolutely an unbelievable ... out-of-body experience," Larkin told MLB Network of the induction telephone call.
Those falling short of the 75 percent threshold for Hall of Fame induction included pitcher Jack Morris (67 percent), first baseman Jeff Bagwell (56 percent), closer Lee Smith (51 percent) and outfielder Tim Raines (49 percent).
Steroid-stained first baseman Mark McGwire finished 10th, receiving 20 percent of the vote.
"My feeling is that whenever there's an instance of definite proof, I'm not going to support the candidacy," said Hall of Fame writer and voter Ross Newhan, formerly of the Los Angeles Times.
There was no such controversy with Larkin.
A 1985 first-round pick (fourth overall) from the University of Michigan, Larkin had a batting average of .295 and a .975 fielding percentage with 198 home runs and 960 RBIs in his career.
He also received three Gold Glove awards and nine Silver Slugger awards.
"All the things he brought to the table," former Reds outfielder Eric Davis told MLB Network Monday. "It was not just his numbers ... he was one of the smartest players I've ever played with. His ability to understand certain situations ... his consistency ... when you played with him day in, day out, you understood.
"There was nothing on the field that he could not do. His body of work was second to none."
Larkin was a member of the Reds' surprising 1990 World Series championship team and was National League MVP in 1995 when he batted .319 with 15 homers, 66 RBIs, 51 stolen bases and scored 98 runs. A year later, he exceeded that effort by batting .298 with 33 homers, 89 RBIs and 36 stolen bases to become the first "30-30" shortstop in the game's history.
Reds Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench said Larkin's election was "deserved," adding the shortstop "established himself" as "elite."
Larkin will be inducted into Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 22, along with "Golden Era" veterans' committee selection, Ron Santo, the former Chicago Cubs third baseman; writer Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun; and broadcaster Tim McCarver.