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Barry Larkin bound for Cooperstown
The former Cincinnati Reds shortstop was chosen on 495 of 573 ballots (86 percent) in voting announced by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, well above the necessary 75 percent. Larkin was on the ballot for the third time after falling 75 votes short last year.
Playing from 1986 through 2004 [-] all with his hometown Reds [-] Larkin hit .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBI, 2,340 hits and 379 stolen bases. A 12-time All-Star, he won the 1995 NL MVP award, three Gold Gloves and the 1990 World Series. In 1996, he became the first shortstop to have 30 homers and 30 steals in a season.
In addition to his Little League, high school and college coaches, Larkin credited late Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler, who recruited him out of Cincinnati and then redshirted him as a freshman.
Jack Morris was second with 382 votes (67 percent), missing by 48 votes on his 13th try but up sharply from 54 percent last year. The pitcher has two chances left on the BBWAA ballot, and no player has received such a high percentage without eventually gaining election.
Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home run list with 583, received 19.5 percent in his sixth try, down from 19.8 percent last year and 23.7 percent in 2010 [-] a vote before he admitted using steroids and human growth hormone.
Bernie Williams received the most votes (55) among players who were eligible for the first time. Bill Mueller got just four votes and will be dropped in future years, along with Juan Gonzalez (23) and Vinny Castilla (six).
Next year’s ballot figures to be the most controversial, with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling eligible for the first time.
Larkin got 52 percent when he appeared on the ballot for the first time in 2010. He received the largest single-year percentage increase to gain election since 1948, when pitcher Herb Pennock was elected with 77.7 percent, a year after finishing with 53.4 percent.
“That was really surprising. I don’t know how things changed,” Larkin said.
He is the 48th Hall of Famer who spent his entire career with one major league team and the third from the Reds, joining Johnny Bench and Bid McPhee.
By John R. Bolton
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