No Reds player will ever don the number 11 again. That’s because during yesterday’s pregame festivities, the organization retired that number. The last player to have the “11” on his back will be the last to ever wear it, Barry Larkin. No Reds player had worn that number since Larkin retired from the Reds back in 2004. Makes sense.
But take a minute and think about that. Who in the right mind would even request to wear number 11? There’s some lofty heights to attempt to live up to, aren’t there? That is would be, but no worry for that.
One part of Larkin’s past that seems to slip some minds is that Larkin did not attend college in Ohio. He attended the University of Michigan…on a football scholarship. He was redshirted his freshman year and gave baseball, another sport he played at Moeller, another glance. Larkin never played a down for Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines, a decision I’m sure all Cincinnati fans appreciate. Not because Larkin would never play football, but the fact he would never don the maize and blue while on that football field.
To honor Larkin, UM retired his #16 in May 2010.
Two things will stand out to many from Larkin’s career: the 1990 World Series Champs and his 1995 NL MVP season. Over the past couple of months, much has been said about Larkin due to his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, an extremely worthy honor. There is something I wish to revisit concerning Larkin having his number retired. Well, a couple of things…
As has been mentioned, 11 was not even Larkin’s original number when he reached the bigs. It was 15, the same as George Foster. Like that’s not pressure either, but the number 11 Larkin would eventually wear was the previous property of Kurt Stillwell, the guy Larkin would eventually unseat as the starting shortstop.
Here’s what stands out the most with me in regards to Larkin’s career as a Red.
In December 2010, former BRM staff writer Alex Apple constructed his list of top 10 Reds of all-time. He had Larkin at #7. It’s not that Alex had him seventh, but it’s this from his post.
“What made Larkin so special was that he was to the Reds what Derek Jeter currently is to the Yankees. He was the face of the franchise, and a consistent force in the lineup that never left despite the common turnover of the roster during his years.”
I do not believe a soul could argue this point. If they attempted to do that, well, it’s not possible to do so. Larkin is still revered in Cincinnati and rightfully so. He is still special to the fans. In fact, many a fan will say they became a Reds fan because of Barry Larkin and not be a bit afraid to tell you such. They will also offer no hesitation in telling you that Barry Larkin is their favorite Red of all time.
And they shouldn’t hesitate.
It always special when a hometown player can create such memories for his hometown team. Larkin has provided us with many. Yesterday, the organization returned the favor.