NEW YORK – Barry Larkin was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Monday with plenty of room to spare.
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.
He will be inducted July 22 in Cooperstown along with the late Ron Santo, elected last month by the Veterans Committee.
“I am so humbled by the experience and so excited about being the newest member of the Hall of Fame,” Larkin said on a conference call.
Playing from 1986-2004 – all with his hometown Reds – Larkin hit .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 2,340 hits and 379 stolen bases. A 12-time All-Star, he won the 1995 N.L. 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.
“I was a better football player than a baseball player at the time,” Larkin said. “I just worked on my baseball talent, just that alone. That was an eye-opener because I got so much better.”
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. No player has recieved such a high percentage without eventually being elected.
Jeff Bagwell was third at 56 percent, followed by Lee Smith (51 percent), Tim Raines (49 percent), Alan Trammell (37 percent) and former Seattle Mariner Edgar Martinez (37 percent).
Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home run list with 583, received 19.5 percent in his sixth try, down from 19.8 last year and 23.7 in 2010 – a vote before he admitted using steroids and human growth hormone.
Bernie Williams received the most votes (55) among players 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.
He is the 48th Hall of Famer who spent his entire career with one major league team.