Two greats of the game were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday, Barry Larkin and Ron Santo. It was a beautiful Sunday in Cooperstown, New York. Many fans attended the ceremony, as did over 40 members of the Hall of Fame.
Barry Larkin: The third time was the charm for Barry Larkin. In the third year his name appeared on the ballot the Baseball Writers Association of America elected him with 495 votes (86.4%). He needed only 430 votes.
Any doubt that Larkin wasn’t excited and honored was quickly put to rest. The first thing he said was: ”I am going to tell you guys something before I get started… you know, you see us up here nice and polished and looking dapper. Calm, cool and collective. But, I am going to tell you what… this is unstinking believable! Unbelievable!”
Larkin, a Cincinnati native, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1985. He was the fourth pick overall and made a quick jump to the Majors, making his debut on August 13, 1986. Larkin beat out fellow prospect Kurt Stillwell to win the starting shortstop job with the Reds – a position he would hold until his retirement in 2004.
During his 19-year career (all in Cincinnati), Larkin won a World Series Championship in 1990 and many awards along the way. He was a 12 time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, nine-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 1993 Roberto Clemente Award winner, 1994 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award and was the 1995 NL MVP. Before the 1997 season Larkin was named the Reds’ Captain, the first person to hold this title since Dave Concepcion retired in 1988.
Ron Santo: A legend in Chicago. He never gave up on the field. He was a broadcaster who announced like he played the game, with passion. He raised over $65 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.
Ron Santo made his Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs on June 26, 1960. The third-baseman was a career .277 hitter with 342 homers, 2,254 total hits and 1,331 RBI’s. He played in nine All-Star games and won five Gold Gloves. Santo managed to put up these numbers while coping with type 1 diabetes. He spent 13 years with the Cubs and retired following the 1974 season as a member of the Chicago White Sox.
In 1990, Santo joined the Cubs in the WGN Radio broadcast booth as Radio Color Commentator. He was as passionate in the booth as he was on the field. If the Cubs won, he cheered. If the Cubs lost, he took it to heart. Santo, still coping with diabetes, had his right leg amputated below the knee in 2001 and his left leg amputated in 2002. He refused to give-up. His only concern was making sure he could be in the broadcast booth on opening day.
Ron Santo passed away on December 3, 2010. To this day, he is missed at Wrigley Field. In 2011, a statue of Santo was unveiled outside “The Friendly Confines”. The Golden Era committee elected him to the Hall of Fame earlier this year, he received 93.75% of the vote.
Santo was represented by his widow, Vicki Santo during his induction. It was an emotional and special moment for Vicki, who talked about his love of the Cubs and how much he wanted to help people.
The Good in Sports congratulates Barry Larkin and Ron Santo on their induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Two classy people who represented MLB with class and dignity.