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Larkin, Santo inducted into Hall

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Barry Larkin lost it before he even started. Vicki Santo never wavered as she honored her late husband, Ron.

Baseball's highest honor always seems to leave a special impression on those directly involved.

Larkin, the Reds' former star shortstop, and Ron Santo, a standout third baseman for the Cubs and later a beloved broadcaster for the team, were inducted Sunday into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

After wiping away tears as his teenage daughter sang the national anthem, Larkin began a litany of thank yous to the important people who helped him along his journey, none more important than his mom, Shirley, and father, Robert, who were seated in the first row.

"If we were going to do something, we were going to do it right," Larkin said. "Growing up, you challenged me. That was so instrumental."

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Larkin was a two-sport star at Moeller High School and thought he might become a pro football player after accepting a scholarship to play college ball at Michigan for Bo Schembechler. That changed in a hurry.

"He (Schembechler) redshirted me my freshman year and told me that he was going to allow me just to play baseball," Larkin said. "Occasionally, I'd call him while I was playing in the big leagues and told him that was the best decision he made as a football coach. He didn't like that too much."

Ron Santo didn't live to experience the day he had dreamed of. Plagued by health problems, he died Dec. 3, 2010, at the age of 70. His long battle with diabetes cost him both legs below the knees, but he ultimately died of complications from bladder cancer.

A member of the Cubs organization for the better part of five decades as a player (1960-74) and broadcaster (1990-2010), Santo was selected by the Veterans Committee in December, exactly one year after his death.

Vicki Santo said she cried a lot while practicing her speech. Her poise was remarkable when it counted most.

"It just feels right, a perfect ending to a remarkable journey," she said. "Ron left an awful hole for many of us today. This is not a sad day. This is a great day. I'm certain that Ronnie is celebrating right now."

So, too, were the Cubs. They paid tribute to Santo, clicking their heels as they jumped over the third-base line to start the bottom of the first at St. Louis.

PITCHER SORRY: Indians RHP Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, apologized for pretending to be somebody he was not for the past 12 years. "I want to say I'm sorry," he said through interpreter Charisse Dash. "I thank God I am here and have been given a new chance."

PADRES SIGN SLUGGER: Carlos Quentin agreed to a $27 million, three-year contract with the Padres that includes a no-trade clause. Quentin, 29, grew up in nearby Chula Vista.

CARDINALS: LHP Jaime Garcia, out since June 5 because of tears in his left rotator cuff and labrum, is expected to begin a rehab assignment within the next two weeks.

Cubs: The team said RHP Matt Garza, the former Rays starter who left Saturday's start after three innings with cramping in his triceps, should be able to avoid the disabled list.

MARLINS: 3B Hanley Ramirez, who cut his right hand when he punched a cooling fan in the dugout July 8, has an infection after forgetting to take his medication one day last week and is likely to sit out several more games.

METS: RHP Miguel Batista was designated for assignment, possibly clearing a path for RHP Matt Harvey, one of the team's top prospects, to make his big-league debut Thursday in Arizona.

NATIONALS: SS Ian Desmond went on the 15-day disabled list with a torn left oblique muscle and is expected to be out for at least a month.

Larkin, Santo inducted into Hall 07/22/12 [Last modified: Sunday, July 22, 2012 9:13pm]
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