Barry Larkin and My Trip Down Memory Lane

Happy 2012 to everyone, and congratulations to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s latest inductee, Barry Larkin.  In anticipation of Larkin’s induction, I thought it would be fun to take a look through my Barry Larkin slide archive and scan some of my favorite images of the Red’s superstar shortstop.

CINCINNATI:  Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds looks on during an MLB game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Larkin played for the Reds from 1986-2004.   (Photo by Ron Vesely)   Subject: Barry Larkin. (Ron Vesely)

2012 Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin dusts himself off after stealing second base during a game at Riverfront Stadium.

It’s events like this that give me the kick in the pants to open up my file cabinets, grab a Schneider 4x loupe, fire up the Coolscan and take a brief journey back in time.  Quite the opposite of working in today’s digital world of metadata and PhotoShelter, where a simple search of my PhotoShelter archive produces results in seconds, locating slides could became a daunting task that could go from difficult to impossible if one didn’t maintain some sort of cataloging system.  Lucky for me I am one of those “organized” type guys.  My slides are like my children.  I know everything about them.  Not only do I know where each slide is located but I also remember details about the image itself, the game, the moment, the events of the day or perhaps some other nuance that more often than not triggers a momentary flashback to days gone by.  It’s kind of like hearing a classic song on the radio.  It evokes an emotion, a memory.  Maybe that’s why music was and still is such a major force in my life.  How much so?  More than you can imagine.

NEW YORK-CIRCA 1989:  Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the New York Mets during an MLB game at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City.  Larkin played for the Reds from 1986-2004.   (Photo by Ron Vesely)   Subject: Barry Larkin. (Ron Vesely)

NEW YORK-CIRCA 1989: Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the New York Mets during an MLB game at Shea Stadium. If you listen carefully, you might hear the roar of jets on final approach to LaGuardia.

Take the batting image of Larkin below for example.  Take a close look and you will discover that the Cubs Jody Davis is the man behind the mask.  What comes to mind?  “Jody, Jody Davis, catcher without fear”,  as sung by Harry Cary to the tune of Davey Crockett (Harry sang this often when Davis came to bat) is what popped into my head!  I know, a little crazy.  But this is why I love digging through my files.  There’s more.

CHICAGO - AUGUST 22:  Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds bats against the Chicago Cubs during an MLB game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.  Larkin made his major league debut a few weeks earlier in Cincinnati. Larkin played for the Reds from 1986-2004.   (Photo by Ron Vesely)   Subject: Barry Larkin. (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO - AUGUST 22: Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds bats against the Chicago Cubs during an MLB game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Larkin made his major league debut a few weeks earlier in Cincinnati. Larkin played for the Reds from 1986-2004. (Photo by Ron Vesely) Subject: Barry Larkin.

The slide mount itself told a story.  August 86 was printed on the mount by the good people at Qualux.  As I prepared to write this blog I conducted a little research and found that Larkin made his Major League debut only a few weeks prior to the date imprinted on this chrome.  Early, very early Larkin action.  Nice.  Oh yeah, there’s more.  How about this tidbit?  Pete Rose played his last game as a player only a week before this image was taken.  One slide.  Many memories.

CINCINNATI:  Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds bats during an MLB game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Larkin played for the Reds from 1986-2004.   (Photo by Ron Vesely)   Subject: Barry Larkin. (Ron Vesely)

You'd better have brought a 600mm lens if you wanted to shoot batters from the outside photo position (which was actually part of the Reds dugout) at Riverfront Stadium.

Back when I traveled extensively while covering baseball, Cincinnati was one of my stops.  Although Riverfront Stadium, with its AstroTurf wasn’t what I would call “photo friendly” (think the mysterious focus issues of Camelback Ranch caused me headaches, shooting film on a hot, sunny day while using a 600 at Riverfront was a real treat), it was still a place to visit at least once a year to get the Reds at home in their white uniforms.  You needed either a 300 or less to shoot from the inside well, or a 600mm to shoot from the far outside position (actually part of the dugout).  For batters, that was the spot.  Check out the security guard in the background, obviously distracted.  Lucky for him Barry didn’t foul one off his coconut.

My journey continued as I came upon this headshot I made of Barry during spring training in Plant City. I recall setting up my “studio” on a screened in porch near the Reds clubhouse, on a cool and rather foggy and humid Florida morning.

PLANT CITY, FLORIDA:  Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds poses for a headshot during spring training in Plant City, Florida.  Larkin played for the Reds from 1986-2004.   (Photo by Ron Vesely)   Subject: Barry Larkin. (Ron Vesely)

I see I missed something while making this picture. I forgot to have Barry button that top button.

It’s been years since I covered spring training in Florida, but I remember one little tidbit that made the visit to Plant City a memorable one.  There was rumored to be a large alligator lurking in the pond just beyond the clubhouse.  Never did see him, but it wasn’t cause I wasn’t trying!  Must have been the fog.

CHICAGO:  Barry Larkin celebrates with Bo Diaz of the Cincinnati Reds after Larkin hit a home run during an MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.  Larkin played for the Reds from 1986-2004.   (Photo by Ron Vesely)   Subject: Barry Larkin. (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO: Barry Larkin celebrates with Bo Diaz of the Cincinnati Reds after Larkin hit a home run during an MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Larkin played for the Reds from 1986-2004.

Sometimes the memories aren’t always happy ones.  Scanning this image of Larkin celebrating at home plate, I noticed he was celebrating with Bo Diaz.  Bo Diaz.  I remember him, and unfortunately, I remember that he died tragically young, shortly after retiring from baseball.  He was killed while adjusting his satellite dish at his home in Caracas.  37 years young.  Just another reminder to live every day like it’s your last.  Balls out, friends.  Because one day, it will be.

My travels took me to the west coast at least once every season, usually for a week at a time.  I loved shooting in the Bay Area! I would  be lying if I didn’t admit that I have become a tad envious of friend and MLB Photos World Series teammate Brad Mangin’s locale.  68 and sunny, not a cloud in the sky, every single game.  Or so it seems. This image of Barry was made while visiting Candlestick, and although the photo is nothing special, it brought back memories of hanging with Brad, Jeff Carlick, Martha Jane Stanton, Otto Gruele, Mike Zagaris and others for the better part of a week.  I can still taste the oyster shooters special from happy hour at the Hyatt.  Delicious!

SAN FRANCISCO:  Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds fields during an MLB game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  Larkin played for the Reds from 1986-2004.   (Photo by Ron Vesely)   Subject: Barry Larkin. (Ron Vesely)

Sunny and not a cloud in the sky, typical summertime weather in the Bay Area. Barry knew to flip down the sunglasses to help find the ball in that "high sky".

Maybe it was while I was on this trip that I signed all of the baseball’s Jeff had on display in a beautiful Carlick pottery creation. (On the sweet spot, every one, I might add).  There’s more, but I think you get the idea.  The stories are endless.

Thanks, Barry, for being elected to the Hall of Fame.  The memories you provided are priceless.

 

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