Baker fondly recalls competing against Larkin

Baker fondly recalls competing against Larkin

CINCINNATI -- With Hall of Fame Weekend finally here, eyes all across the baseball world will turn to Cincinnati as former Red great Barry Larkin takes his place in Cooperstown.

Larkin spent his entire 19-year career with the Reds, posting a career .295 batting average with 12 All-Star selections, three Gold Glove Awards and nine Silver Slugger Awards.

While much of Cincinnati relished the days Larkin suited up for the Reds, current skipper Dusty Baker -- who managed against Larkin several times in his career -- recalled the days he faced the soon-to-be Hall of Famer.

"Playing against him, he was always a guy that was under control," Baker said. "He was always a guy that appeared that the game was slower for him than it was for most -- even though he played it at a high speed. That's one thing that you try to teach to young players. That's the thing about Barry -- from a very young age, he belonged here."

Larkin will be enshrined along with the late Cubs third baseman Ron Santo in this weekend's ceremonies.

But even more valuable than Larkin's numbers on the field was his impact off of it.

Larkin won both the Roberto Clemente Award and Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in his career, two honors based on character, rather than performance.

"We all have heroes, and we hope that heroes don't disappoint you, and that's what Barry Larkin has done on and off the field," Baker said. "He's a very intelligent man, very well-spoken man. I don't think you could have a better representative going into the Hall of Fame for the Cincinnati Reds than Barry Larkin."