BY GREG KLEIN
When he heard that Barry Larkin got elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan Bill Brady knew he had to bring his daughter to Cooperstown. Larkin Brady, age 7, was named after the Reds shortstop after all.
“I promised Larkin when Barry went into the Hall of Fame we would bring her up here,” said Brady, a Cincinnati native who now lives in Takoma Park, Md. Brady and his children, Larkin and her younger brother, 4-year-old William, were all decked out in their Reds gear Sunday. Although they no longer live in Ohio, they have not stopped cheering on their team.
“We watch a lot of games on the internet,” Brady said. For years, Brady said, his daughter’s favorite bedtime story was about how she got her name.
“My nephew was 5 at the time and we told him he could help us with names,” Brady said. “So he sent us a postcard with a list on it. It had his name, his father’s name, and then a bunch ofnames of Reds players: Ken, then Griffey, then Adam for Adam Dunn, then Dunn, then Barry, then Larkin.
“At first we thought we were going to have a boy. At about six months (when they learned they were having a girl), my wife said to me, ‘You know, Larkin is a pretty name for a girl.’
“When I told my nephew, ‘Christopher, you named your niece,’ he was tickled pink,” Brady said.
The Brady family joined a slightly above average size induction crowd of Reds and Cubs fans, nearly evenly split between red and blue. The Hall of Fame announced that an estimated 18,000 fans attended the induction ceremony.
“It is like the whole weekend is one friendly Reds-Cubs game,” theatre owner Ron Onesti of Chicago said. “You look into the crowd and it is like there is a friendly battle going on as to who could bring the most fans.”
Onesti’s theatre, Arcada Live in St. Charles, Ill, is hosting a screening of Jeff Santo’s movie about his father “This Old Cub” on Saturday. A small portion of the film was shown on the jumbo screen before Santo’s induction.
The screening will benefit the charity Ron Santo spent much of his adult life supporting, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Santo’s widow, Vicki, said her husband had raised more than $65 million publicly for the foundation.
For Cincinnati fans, the trip was inspired by the lure of seeing a hometown hero go into the Hall. Larkin grew up in Cincinnati and spent his entire 19-year career with the Reds. “It is special,” Marshall Stills, Jr., of Xenia, Ohio said. “I am a lifelong Barry Larkin fan. I didn’t have to follow him from team to team. I could watch him his entire career with the Reds.”
Added Brady: “You know, he was just a classy guy. Cincinnati is a small town. People know what kind of person you are. Everybody knows Barry was a good guy.”
For Cubs fans, the induction of Santo may have been even more special. The late Cubs third baseman and longtime announcer for the team died in Dec. 2010, just before his selection by the Golden Era Veterans Committee.
“Ronny is the Cubs,” said Jim Pacifici of Chicago, who spent nearly 24 hours over two days driving to get to the induction. “All these fans are here because of Ron. We’re Cubs fans, we love our team, but we love Ron Santo.”
Many Cubs fans lamented that Santo’s induction to the Hall of Fame came a year too late. “If he had been alive,” Pacifici said, “I tell you this entire field would have been filled with Cubs fans.” Onesti had a different perspective.
“If it had to be this way, it just makes it more special to me,” he said. “I know some people are still angry that it didn’t happen sooner, while he was still alive. I feel like it is better it happened this year than not at all.”
Bob Fannello, 59, of Rockford, Ill, made the trip with his 30-year-old son Matthew.
“He came through in 2005 when Ryne Sandberg was inducted and got me a bat,” Fannello said. “This trip was a surprise for him to celebratemy 59th birthday and his 30th birthday. I called him up and said ‘Matthew, we’re going to Cooperstown to get another bat.’”
“Ronny was my hero,” Fanello added. “I’m here for him. You may be surprised by how many Cubs fans are here, but I’m not. It is a worldwide phenomenon. We all love Ron Santo.”
BY GREG KLEIN
- Local News
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