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Larkin's dad: If not Cooperstown, why not Canton

Associated Press Published: July 22, 2012
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Robert Larkin coached several sports while son Barry was growing up, none more important to the youngster than football.

And it showed when Barry starred at Moeller High School in Cincinnati and received a scholarship to play for Bo Schembechler at Michigan. But after being redshirted his freshman year with the Wolverines, Larkin focused on baseball, became an All-Star shortstop with Cincinnati, and carved a Hall of Fame career in 19 years with the Reds.

Larkin, introduced to the game at the age of five by his dad, retired after the 2004 season with a .295 career average, 2,340 hits, 1,329 runs scored and 379 stolen bases, and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Sunday.

Robert Larkin,who started his protege in t-ball, said he was feeling absolute pride.

"This is the ultimate," Robert Larkin said. "I don't think you can do much more than this."

If Barry Larkin had decided to stick with football, his dad figures the family would have had to make plans to be elsewhere on Sunday.

"We'd be in Canton," Robert Larkin said with a laugh as he pondered the pro football Hall of Fame in Ohio.

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ZEILE AND SHEEN: Todd Zeile never played for the Cincinnati Reds in his long major league career. He had to admire Barry Larkin as an opponent, and the star shortstop left an indelible impression.

"He was one of my favorite guys to compete against," Zeile, who played for 11 teams during his 16-year major league career, said Sunday before Larkin was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "He's a consummate professional. He does the work on the field, not with his mouth. He's always been a class act. He's a guy you knew was always going to come through. I couldn't be happier for him."

Zeile, who retired after the 2004 season, was at the ceremony with actor Charlie Sheen. Zeile said he and Sheen met in a tunnel at Dodger Stadium in 1997 and called it a whimsical moment.

"I run in to warm my hands and he's wandering through the hallways," said Zeile, who founded a film production company late in his baseball career. "We give a hug and a handshake, I go back out and hit a home run the first pitch. He remembered thinking the last hand he touched was mine and it kind of bonded us from then on."

So much so that the two have produced television shows together.

Zeile said Sheen is a baseball aficionado like few others.

"One time he remembered going into his closet, opening up a drawer and seeing a folded-up 1941 Ted Williams road jersey and saying, 'You know what, if that's what my collecting has come to, then I'm being gluttonous,' and he literally went out and sold the rest (of his collection)," Zeile said. "The only two things that he still has in his collection are a 1927 Babe Ruth World Series ring and one of the two contracts that sold Babe from the Red Sox to the Yankees. He's kept his piece of history."

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