Larkin, who fell 75 votes short of making it one year ago, was the lone player to reach the 75 percent threshold required to make it into baseball’s elite fraternity. Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who was elected into the Hall of Fame posthumously last month, will also be inducted as part of the 2012 class.
During his 19-year career with the Reds, Larkin was the rare power-hitter at shortstop. He hit .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs and 379 stolen bases. The 12-time All-Star and 1995 National League MVP is a member of the 2,000 hits club (2,340), and helped Cincinnati win the 1990 World Series.
“I’m just incredibly, incredibly moved by this whole experience and so humbled by the experience and so excited about being the newest member of the Hall of Fame,” Larkin said on a conference call.
Along with legendary Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., Larkin helped transform the shortstop position from a place for top-notch fielders with limited hitting prowess to a position where sluggers could also reside. Larkin won three Gold Glove awards but also has nine Silver Slugger trophies to his name and was a fixture in the heart of Cincinnati’s order.
As Washington Post baseball writer Dave Sheinin notes, Larkin was named on 62.1 percent of ballots last year in his first year of eligibility, and his 24.3 percent rise is the largest one-year jump to get in since Herb Pennock in 1947.
Pitcher Jack Morris, a 254-game winner who spent most of his 18-year career with the Detroit Tigers, came up just short, earning 66.7 percent of the ballots from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Longtime Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell (56.0 percent), closer Lee Smith (50.6 percent) and outfielder Tim Raines (48.7) also received strong support but failed to make the cut.
This year may be the calm before the storm as a slew of players tied to baseball’s so-called steroids era become eligible next year. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa will all be among the first-time candidates for the 2013 class. They’ll join Mark McGwire, who failed to top 20 percent (19.5) for the second straight year.
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