Barry Louis Larkin was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 28, 1964. He graduated from Cincinnati's Archbishop Moeller High School in 1982 where he played baseball, football and basketball. Despite being drafted by the Reds in the second round right out of high school, he went on to play baseball for the University of Michigan and hit .361 during his three seasons there (1983-1985). At Michigan he earned All-American honors twice and was the first baseball player ever to be named MVP of the Big Ten twice. Larkin also played on the U.S. Olympic team at the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles and hit .311 helping his team win the silver medal.
His brothers had successful careers in athletics as well. Mike played football at Notre Dame, Byron played basketball at Xavier University and is their all-time leading scorer, and Stephen Larkin was originally selected by the Texas Rangers in the 10th round of the June 1994 free-agent draft but was later traded to the Reds in August of 1995.
After his three seasons at Michigan, Larkin was selected by the Reds with the fourth overall pick in the 1985 draft. Larkin's stint in the minor leagues was brief and he had his major league debut with the Reds on August 13, 1986. During his first year with the team he fought for the shortstop position with fellow prospect Kurt Stillwell and saw play in 41 games of the 1987 season. Despite struggling that year, finishing with a .244 batting average, 12 home runs, 43 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases, the Reds traded Stillwell to Kansas City and made Larking their #1 shortstop.
In his first year as the Reds starting shortstop, Larkin batted .296 with 12 home runs, 56 RBIs, and 40 stolen bases, although he also led the league that year with fielding errors (29). Later in his career, Larkin would go on to win the National League Shortstop Golden Glove three years in a row (1994-1996). Over the next 16 years, Larkin became one of the best shortstops in the game, even helping the Reds shock the world with a sweep of the Oakland A's in the 1990 World Series. He also became the first shortstop in Major League history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season and was named the Reds team captain in 1997.
Larkin is a big advocate of giving back to the community and created the Barry's Bunch program which would host underprivileged children at Reds home games. In 1993 he received the Reds' Roberto Clemente Award for his performance on and off the baseball field. He was a finalist for the Branch Rickey Award which honors "Service over self," twice in both 1996 and 1998. In 1997 his Caring Team of Athletes, Inc., a national organization of professional athletes that raises money for children's charities, donated $25,000 to schools in Pendleton County, KY, an area hit hard by that year's flooding.
Larkin retired from baseball after the 2004 season, having played all 19 seasons of his career for the Reds. Larkin will always be known as an exceptional leader, tough competitor, and fan favorite. Larkin was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in January 2012 with 86.4% of votes and will be inducted on Sunday July 22. Larkin will be the 8th Reds player in the Hall of Fame and 24th shortstop. He currently resides in Orlando, Florida with his wife and three children: daughters Brielle D'Shea (21) and Cymber (16) and a son, Shane (19).