Barry Larkin day

26 08 2012

I don’t have a whole lot today – I’m coming back from a wedding in southern Indiana.  A soon-to-be move to Chicago dictated me flying in and out of Chicago to look at places, then renting a car to make the drive.  Driving from Southern Indiana to Midway airport with a hangover and 4 hours of sleep was admittedly not the most fun thing.  But I did get to see an old friend get married and meet his wife for the first time.  They live in Paris.  She’s from there – and her family and friends taught this single language American how to order a beer in French last night.  I seemed to have a good handle on it at 4 AM last night.  12 hours later – not so much.  It was tough to make the wedding, with a 3-week old kid at home, but my folks are up helping my wife with that.  Since my friend lives overseas, I rarely get a chance to see him anymore, so it was great to make it.

The timing also granted me the opportunity to watch the festivities on TV for Barry Larkin’s uniform retirement.  The main ceremony was held before yesterday’s game.  If I’d been home in Jersey this weekend, that wouldn’t have been an option.  I stayed at my parents’ house (which is in a Cincy suburb) Friday night and really was thinking about buying tickets to the game Saturday just to see the ceremony – then leaving after the first inning and driving up to the wedding.  Meeting my sister for lunch was in the opposite direction and took precedent, but I did appreciate getting to see it live on TV.  Larkin was never my absolute favorite Red – that was reserved for Eric Davis and Ken Griffey Jr. – but as a hometown hero, he’s always been right up there.

His speech was nice, and it was cool to see that a bunch of his former teammates came as well.  The Reds had an “11 days of Larkin” promotion – I actually wish I could have gone to the meet and greet Thursday more than anything.  It sounds like everything was really well done.  Larkin wanted this to be something very accessible to the fans – a way for them to enjoy it as much as him.  Barry talked about the pride he had in wanting to represent his hometown of Cincinnati and the Reds organization.  For someone born and raised in Cincinnati – that tugs at my heart a little bit!  I don’t live there any more and I don’t know if I ever will want to move back.  But I’m still very proud to be from there and will probably always think of it as “home”.  To hear the best player from your favorite team have that same kind of pride – well, it’s pretty cool.  This is particularly true after I’ve lived in the greater New York City area for 2+ years.  I don’t know how to say this in a nice way, but I’ve become fairly bitter about the whole Yankee fandom going on there.  I noticed this in Columbus for Ohio State fans, too – but that incredible level of success makes the fans spoiled.  There are a lot of great Yankee fans – I’ve met quite a few at games I’ve been to.  But there are an incredible amount of obnoxious fans who act as if it’s their birthright to make the postseason every year.  As a Reds fan, being mediocre for 15 years really teaches you to appreciate this window when the team is a contender again.

The Reds came through with a win, too, on Barry Larkin Day – so pushing the Cardinals back to a 7-game deficit was a pretty good thing.  They weren’t so lucky today, but avoiding a sweep was the biggest thing this weekend.  And you always want the home team to win on something like a team hall of fame or a retirement ceremony!  Congrats again to Barry Larkin!

A couple of cool tidbits about Barry:

  • He mentioned during the speech he was proud to be the first Cincinnati-born player to go into the Hall of Fame.  That kind of surprised me – I figured somebody would have made it.  Turns out he is in fact the first player born in Cincinnati, though Miller Huggins was inducted as a manager.  Huggins was born and raised in Cincinnati, and in fact played in undergrad at the University of Cincinnati (and later got a law degree).
  • Barry is one of 4 Hall of Famers to play their entire career for their hometown team (born and raised in that city).  He is the first non-Yankee.  The other three are Whitey Ford (born and raised in Queens), Phil Rizzuto (born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens) and Lou Gehrig (born and raised in Manhattan).  I’m not sure how many players have the cap of their hometown team on their HOF plaque – that would be an interesting thing to research.  Hal Newhouser (Detroit) and Willie Keeler (Brooklyn) are two others I know of who meet that criteria.


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