Yesterday, my favorite baseball player was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Barry Larkin, of course, played for the Cincinnati Reds his entire career. I watched and listened to a lot of Reds games during those years, and Larkin was simply a joy to behold. He should have been elected to the Hall of Fame two years ago, but we'll take what we can get.
For some reason, my most enduring memory of Barry Larkin came in Game 2 of the 1990 World Series. The World hadn't really been fully introduced to Larkin yet, but Reds fans were already beginning to realize what a special kid we had playing shortstop. In Game 2, the A's had taken the lead in the top of the first when Larkin stepped to the plate. Two pitches later, Bob Welch (that year's Cy Young winner) had Larkin in an 0-2 hole.
I'll never forget that next pitch; it was a fastball and it's no exaggeration to say that the ball was eye-level. Inexplicably, Larkin took a mammoth swing and hit a ground-rule double. By the end of the inning, the Reds had taken the lead and my confidence that the Reds could actually pull off a victory was restored.
I guess the reason why I remember that play most was that it was so unlike the Larkin I came to enjoy throughout his career. Larkin was a guy who did the little things correctly; he was a great fielder, an excellent base-runner, he took a walk. On October 17, 1990, he hacked at a pitch, and I'll never forget it.
Anyway, I'm happy for Larkin, and I'm glad I got to watch him play. (Below are a few pics I snapped of Larkin at Great American Ballpark a few years ago.)