Larkin low-key but 'excited' about getting possible Hall call
Barry Larkin is the top returning vote-getter on the Hall of Fame ballot
Larkin, a 12-time All-Star and former MVP, is expected to be elected on Monday
Larkin spent his entire 19-year career with his hometown Cincinnati Reds
Barry Larkin is flying to New York next week.
While that is the customary rite of players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame -- after the results are announced Monday, there is a press conference with the electees in Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Tuesday -- Larkin, the Reds' longtime star shortstop, is coming to the city no matter what.
That's because his teenage daughter is a singer who will be soon be releasing her debut album and is slated to shoot scenes for a music video in Times Square and on top of the Empire State Building.
"To be quite honest," Larkin said, "I'm just playing butler right now."
So while the baseball world examines and scrutinizes every name and every stat of the 27 former players on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, the leading candidate for election by the writers said he's trying to avoid getting bogged down in advance speculation.
"I'm excited about it, but I'm glad I've got other things that are keeping me from sitting and really dwelling on the possibilities," Larkin said Tuesday from his home in the Orlando area.
For now that means Larkin is spending his days helping his daughter -- who performs under the stage name CymcoLé and, according to her father, sings a mixture of hip hop, R&B, pop and Latin music -- get to a recent photoshoot, watching his son Shane play basketball for the University of Miami and working out a handful of major leaguers, including A's second baseman Jemile Weeks and Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon. Larkin will fly to New York on Monday if he receives word that he's been elected to the Hall of Fame or later in the week if he's traveling only on his daughter's behalf.
Larkin played 2,180 games over 19 seasons with the Reds, amassing 2,340 hits, 1,329 runs, 198 home runs and 379 stolen bases to go along with a .295 career average, .371 on-base percentage, 12 All-Star appearances, three Gold Gloves and the 1995 National League MVP award. He batted .353 in helping Cincinnati win the 1990 World Series. His .815 OPS ranks fourth alltime among shortstops who played a minimum of 2,000 games (and at least 60 percent of them at short), trailing only Joe Cronin, Honus Wagner and Derek Jeter.
In his first year on the ballot in 2010, Larkin received 51.6 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America and 62.1 percent in 2011; 75 percent of the vote is required for election. With no surefire electees joining the ballot for the first time this year, Larkin is the top returning vote getter and the best bet for enshrinement this summer along with the late Ron Santo, who was elected by the veterans' committee.
"I try not to think about it," said Larkin, who is also an analyst for ESPN. "[But] certainly it's on my mind. I'm excited about the opportunity, but I refer back to what Jim Rice told me. I asked him when I was working at the [MLB] Network about him getting inducted on the 15th [ballot], and he said, 'I couldn't go out and hit another home run, drive in another run, make another error or anything. I did what I did. It's really in the hands of the people who are voting.'
"I'm glad I talked to him because I was very anxious waiting to hear what would happen beforehand, so now that's taken some of the anxiety off of me."
Larkin spent time with Rice and with Hall of Fame first baseman Eddie Murray while the three participated in David Ortiz's charity golf tournament in the Dominican Republic this winter, but Larkin said he didn't raise his candidacy with them in conversation, calling the topic "taboo."
He said he's not actively seeking information about how he stacks up. "If something comes across my desk, I'll read it," he said, "but I don't go out and Google or try to search for articles about me and my possibilities."
The early returns are promising. One blog on the Baseball Think Factory site has been tabulating writers' public ballots, with Larkin's name appearing on 92.9 percent of the 84 that have been counted thus far, which is well above the necessary 75-percent threshold, though this represents a small portion of the 581 ballots that were cast last year.
Larkin would just assume wait to find out. If -- and probably when -- his phone rings with the call from the Hall, it'll be more music to his ears.