In a conference call with media Tuesday, Barry Larkin touched on everything from his preparation leading up to Sunday’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame to his playing days for his hometown Cincinnati Reds and a transition from football to baseball that changed his life.
Here’s a look at some Larkin quotes from the call:
On the anticipation for Sunday: “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.”
On growing up in Cincinnati and playing for 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. 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.”
On his induction ceremony: 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.”
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 his transition 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.”
Larkin will get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday along with Cubs legend Ron Santo.
-Chris R. Vaccaro