CINCINNATI - 1990: Barry Larkin #11 of the Cincinnati Reds throws the ball during a game in the 1990 season at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI - No matter how old you are or where you have lived, if you're a sports fan you know the name Barry Larkin is synonymous with the Cincinnati Reds.
Growing up, all I heard from my dad and other people his age was how good the Big Red Machine was. While some of us weren't alive to have watched arguably the greatest team in sports history, we were witness to another great sports icon.
Most of us know Larkin's story. Born and raised in Cincinnati. One of several athletes in his family. One of the greatest shortstops of all time who played his entire major league career with the Reds.
He lived the life so many of us dreamed about as we played sports in our parents' backyards. It's not often that a professional athlete is drafted by his hometown team (4th overall pick in 1985 draft), let alone spend their whole career with that organization and make it to the Hall of Fame.
Larkin, 47, played the game the way it should be and was an all-around player who did all the little things and seemed to shine when the pressure was on.
Kids wanted to be like Barry and players wanted to play with him.
The numbers don't lie. From 1986-2004, Larkin hit .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 2,340 hits and 379 stolen bases. He always seemed to get the clutch hit when the team needed and got to every ball hit in his general vicinity.
The Cincinnati native was elected to 12 All-Star games, won three Gold Gloves (would've been many more if it weren't for Ozzie Smith) and helped the Reds sweep the powerful Oakland A's in the 1990 World Series.
He also won the 1995 NL MVP award and was elected to the Reds' Hall of Fame in 2008.
The third time for the Hall of Fame was the charm for Larkin. He received 86 percent of the vote in balloting announced by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in January.
But for some of us, like myself, Larkin meant much more.
Barry Larkin is the reason I wanted to play shortstop in Knothole baseball on the westside of town and in softball leagues I currently play in. Larkin was also the reason I wore 'flipshades,' wrist bands and most importantly, the reason I and so many other players my age donned the number 11 so proudly.
Larkin is one of the athletes I will tell my son about as he gets older. My son doesn't turn 2 until next month, but he will be sitting right next to me Sunday afternoon when Larkin gives his Hall of Fame speech in Cooperstown, N.Y. At least that's the plan, anyone with a toddler knows how this could go.
The Reds legend has had several months to prepare for Sunday's special moment, but for many of us, we've been preparing for this day for years.
To view Larkin's bio from the Reds click here .
What are some of your fondest Barry Larkin memories? Share them in the comment section below.
* Note: The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, which also include the late Cubs thirdbaseman Ron Santo, begin at 1:30 p.m.
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