It will be a while before a Nationals player gets the call to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. But this afternoon, a former major leaguer who spent three years in the Nationals' front office will likely be welcomed into the hallowed hall of baseball's immortals.
Barry Larkin, a 12-time All-Star shortstop and the 1995 Most Valuable Player during a 19-year big league career spent entirely with the Cincinnati Reds, is favored to get the required 75 percent of the vote on ballots submitted by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Results of the balloting will be announced today on the BBWAA Web site, the BBWAA Twitter feed and live on the MLB Network at 3 p.m. We'll be sure to update this entry with the results, too, so check back later this afternoon.
This is Larkin's third year on the Hall of Fame ballot - he received 51.6 percent of the vote in 2010, his first year of eligibility, and got 62.1 percent last year. This year, he's widely expected to make the leap past the 75 percent needed for enshrinement in July. If that happens, the former special assistant to the general manager of the Nationals would join the late Ron Santo as inductees July 22 at Cooperstown.
The Reds didn't offer Larkin a contract after his hit .289 with eight homers and 44 RBIs in 11 games in 2004, and in 2006, he joined the Nationals as a special assistant to then-general manager Jim Bowden. Larkin left the organization after the 2008 campaign for an analyst gig with the newly formed MLB Network and jumped to ESPN last year.
Other notables on this year's ballot are big-game pitcher Jack Morris, former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell, longtime Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez and ex-Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell. Among those on the ballot with ties to the Nationals are former Expos leadoff man Tim Raines, ex-Montreal outfielder Larry Walker, closer Lee Smith (who closed out his career with the Expos in 1997) and Vinny Castilla, the starting third baseman for the Nationals in their first season in D.C. and the first former National to make the ballot.
Whaddaya think?: While we're waiting for the BBWAA announcement, who do you think will be first National to make it to the Hall of Fame? It's possible that someone who played here briefly (i.e., Ivan Rodriguez, who would probably go in as a Ranger) could make it before someone who will be enshrined with a curly W on their plaque, so who's your pick as the first guy who played the majority of his career in D.C.?
Update: Larkin was the only player elected from this year's balloting, earning 86.4 percent of the vote. On Twitter, the Nationals offered this message to Larkin: "Nationals offer their congratulations to Barry Larkin on his well-deserved HOF election. BL is one of the game's finest gentlemen."
Morris got 66.7 percent of the vote to finish second, while Bagwell was third with 56 percent. Smith (50.6 percent), Raines (48.7 percent), Trammel (36.8 percent), Martinez (36.5 percent), Fred McGriff (23.9 percent), Walker (22.9 percent) and Mark McGwire (19.5 percent) rounded out the top 10 vote-getters.
Castilla received six votes, or 1 percent, and will not be back for a second year on the ballot. Players need to achieve at least 5 percent of the vote to retain their place on the ballot.
Update: Larkin told MLB Network that he once considered a spot in the Hall of Fame "unfathomable" because he was once considered "a complementary-type player." He was home in Orlando, Fla., when the call came shortly before 3 p.m. this afternoon, telling him he'd be enshrined in Cooperstown.
"It was an unbelievable experience," he said. "I feel like it was almost an out-of-body experience. I couldn't believe it. ... Just to hear that phone ring and talk to the guys from the Hall of Fame and to be inducted. It's amazing."