Barry Larkin elected to Hall of Fame

Shortstop Barry Larkin, the longtime Cincinnati Reds shortstop, coasted into the baseball Hall of Fame on Monday, the sole electee in a year marked by a dearth of compelling first-time names on the ballot. Larkin, in his third year on the ballot, was named on 495 of a possible 573 votes, or 86.4 percent – well above the 75 percent required for enshrinement.

Falling just short this year were pitcher Jack Morris (66.7 percent), first baseman Jeff Bagwell (56.0 percent), closer Lee Smith (50.6 percent) and outfielder Tim Raines (48.7 percent). Voting is done by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

First baseman Mark McGwire, whose first-time candidacy in 2007 became the first litmus test of the so-called steroids era in baseball, drew just 19.5 percent support this year – down slightly from 19.8 percent in 2011.

Outfielder Bernie Williams (9.6 percent) was the only first-time candidate out of 13 who drew the 5 percent support necessary to remain on the ballot in future years. Next year’s ballot is a star-studded (and steroids-tainted) one, with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa among the first-time candidates.

Larkin, 47, becomes the 22nd shortstop to enter the Hall of Fame, and will be enshrined at a ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y. on July 22. Ron Santo, the late Chicago Cubs third baseman will also be enshrined, having been elected by the Veterans Committee.

Larkin was named on only 62.1 percent of ballots in 2011, his first year on the ballot, and his gain of 24.3 percent represents the largest one-year jump to gain election since Herb Pennock in 1947.

The Nationals experienced a first this afternoon. Seven full seasons after baseball returned to Washington, a player who wore a Nationals uniform received a vote for the Hall of Fame.

Vinny Castilla isn’t going to make the Hall of Fame – and you may or may not have known he had even made the ballot – but he’ll always have that distinction. Castilla received six (six!) votes in today’s balloting, which saw only Cincinnati Reds shortstop (and former Nationals front office assistant) Barry Larkin make it to Cooperstown.

Castilla put up his best seasons for the Colorado Rockies – in 1998 he slugged .589 and hit 46 home runs. He was the Nationals’ regular third baseman in 2005, the team’s maiden season in D.C., and hit the first homer in RFK Stadium following baseball’s return.

Second baseman Carlos Baerga, another member of the 2005 team, landed on the ballot in 2011, but he received no votes.

Staff writer Adam Kilgore contributed to this report.

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Dave Sheinin has been covering baseball and writing features and enterprise stories for The Washington Post since 1999.
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