I tried at least a half a dozens times to put it in words yesterday. I attempted to author some type of “tribute” to Barry Larkin. For those that know me at any length, fumbling for words is simply not in my nature. This time, it was so. I decided to pursue a different avenue.
Now if you look at the title, you might get the impression that I have only one memory of Larkin. That is far from the truth. I have many, but one stands out above all others. It doesn’t involve a hit. It doesn’t involve a stolen base. It doesn’t involve a tremendous defensive play. It doesn’t even involve meeting him.
October 12, 1990. Game 6. National League Championship Series. Riverfront Stadium. Yes, I will always refer to it as that. I have many memories of that game even 22 years later. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, and on the other, it actually does.
Fond memories they are though. My fondest isn’t that Larkin lead off the bottom of the first with an infield single, stole second and later scored the game’s first run on an force play at second. It wasn’t that Lou Pinella used Luis Quinones to pinch-hit for Paul O’Neill against the lefty Zane Smith and Quinones singled scoring Ron Oester. That was the winning run. It wasn’t that in the top of the ninth, Glenn Braggs headed toward the right field wall on a Carmelo Martinez fly that Braggs made an incredible catch and seemingly robbed Martinez of a go-ahead two-run home run. It wasn’t that Randy Myers struck out Don Slaught to end the game and help deliver Cincinnati a National League Championship and a trip to the World Series.
Sure, those are obviously indelible images etched my memory from that night. What stands out most of all from that game involves Larkin and what occurred after the game.
After the Reds had their on-filed celebration, they made their way back into the clubhouse. On the Jumbotron, a presentation of the NLCS MVP was being shown. As the 56,079 in attendance were still going all types of crazy (well, most of them anyway), Larkin emerged from the Reds dugout. He turned toward the crowd and thrust both of his fists into the air as if to say “Yes!”. The look of joy and jubilation on his face said it all. Same could be said for all the Reds fans still celebrating.
A magical moment.
Section 109. Row 20. Yep, blue seats if you remember how the seats were. That’s where I was the day the Reds captured the 1990 National League title. And it was on that day, my fondest memory of Barry Larkin will forever exist in my mind.
In reality, there is no one way to sum up Larkin’s career. You also can’t do that for any of the other Reds players that are currently enshrined in Cooperstown. It somehow doesn’t seem like it does much justice for what they brought to the game and to the city of Cincinnati.
But Barry summed it up best.
Congrats, Barry! And thank you.
If you haven’t had the privilege pf catching Larkin’s speech, here’s your chance. Or if you simply want to relive it, click the link (HERE). And if you get through it without welling up in Cincinnati pride, you may want to have your pulse checked.
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