The Baseball Writers of America have cast their votes and after tabulation the Hall of Fame class for 2012 had just one winner and it was well deserved. Barry Larkin, captain of the Cincinnati Reds and perhaps the most well rounded athlete to play that position during the 1980’s heard his name called in just his third year on the ballot.
Larkin received 495 votes giving him 86.4 percent well over the 75 percent necessary for enshrinement into Cooperstown. Last year Larkin received just over 62 percent falling behind Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven but a year later he saw his stock raise over 22 percent to solidify his spot among the game’s best.
An 11-time All-Star Larkin was known not only for his defense where he won 3 Gold Gloves despite playing in the same division as fellow Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith but he also had some of the best offensive statistics by a shortstop. Larkin won nine Silver Slugger awards and was the first 30/30 shortstop in the history of the game.
I remember growing up watching Larkin play. He was one of the first Fantasy Baseball players I ever drafted and he helped lead my team to the season championship not just one year but over a three-year stretch so I definitely understood the value Larkin could bring not only on the field but to fantasy owners everywhere.
Larkin will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 22nd and will be joined by the wife of the late Ron Santos who was elected by the Veterans committee. It will be one of the more memorable induction ceremonies and in the end there may not be a dry eye in Cooperstown.
Pitcher Jack Morris finished second in the voting receiving 66.7 percent of the votes meaning he will have just two more years of eligibility to be elected by the writers before his case will be turned over to the Veterans. Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell also saw an increase in support getting 56 percent of the votes.
Other notable vote getters was Lee Smith who retired as the all-time saves leader who received 50.6 percent in his tenth year of being on the ballot. Smith definitely deserves to be inducted given his dominance for such a long time but so far the writers seem apprehensive to electing relief pitchers to the Hall of Fame.
My own personal favorite Dale Murphy also saw his vote total increase from 12.6 percent in 2011 to 14.5 percent. It’s a long way from the needed 75 percent and with just one year remaining in eligibility it would take a miracle for him to reach the Hall of Fame. He will forever be remembered by those who saw him play as a dominant player in his prime and one of the best character guys on and off the field. At least he can hold his head up knowing that a portion of the writers felt strongly enough about his career to keep him on the ballot for 15 consecutive years.
The two players with Arizona Diamondbacks ties, Eric Young and Tony Womack, did not receive enough votes to remain on the ballot and will not be eligible to be included in the vote next season.
Congratulations to Barry Larkin and Ron Santos, the Hall of Fame and baseball immortality have been rightfully earned.