Barry Larkin received plenty of awards, accolades and trophies during his Hall of Fame career. But as he sat behind a microphone at his introductory Hall of Fame news conference in New York on Tuesday morning, Larkin was quick to mention two of his most prized possessions: signed gloves from two of his idols, Davey Concepcion and Ozzie Smith, with a similar message written on both.
"Continue the legacy and pass on the tradition," Larkin said. "In a nutshell, those are the things that are important to me."
Larkin did those things throughout his 19 Major League seasons with the Reds, proving himself worthy on the field of joining Cubs legend Ron Santo in the Hall of Fame's Class of 2012. The 12-time National League All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner was the sole electee this year, appearing on 86.4 percent of the ballots cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America voters.
A career Red, Larkin is the first Cincinnati player to be elected to the Hall since Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez. A member of the Reds squad that swept the A's in the 1990 World Series and the NL MVP in '95, he is widely regarded as one of the most complete shortstops of all-time.
The nine-time Silver Slugger posted a .295 career average, 198 home runs, 379 stolen bases and will officially be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 22.
"When I was asked about my chances of being a Hall of Famer, I commented, 'When I look at a Hall of Famer, I look at him and say, OK, this is what he brings to the table,'" Larkin said. "I challenged the guy that asked me the question to define what I did as a player. If you know, tell me, because I have no idea. That's because I was asked to do a lot of things."
But for all his personal success and natural talent, Larkin spent most of his time on the dais in New York talking about the people who helped shape his career. He shared anecdotes about everyone, from Concepcion to Lou Piniella and even Bo Schembechler, who redshirted the former hopeful Michigan football player as a freshman. Larkin used that time to dedicate himself to baseball, and his career took off from there straight into Cooperstown.
"These coaches that I worked with, they were very pragmatic in their approach to teaching the game of baseball," Larkin said. "Some of those concepts and approaches are things that I utilized throughout my entire career."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.