NEW YORK (AP) – Barry Larkin has been elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.
The former Cincinnati Reds shortstop received 495 votes (86 percent) in balloting announced Monday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, well above the necessary 75 percent. Larkin was on the ballot for the third time after falling 75 votes short last year.
He will be inducted July 22 in Cooperstown along with the late Ron Santo, elected last month by the Veterans Committee.
“It’s just amazing,” Larkin said in an interview on MLB Network. “Last year I just started to smell it a little bit. The first year I didn’t even think it was fathomable, to be quite honest.”
Jack Morris was next with 382 votes (67 percent), missing by 48 votes on his 13th try but up sharply from 54 percent last year. The pitcher has two chances left on the BBWAA ballot.
Playing from 1986-04, Larkin hit .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 2,340 hits and 379 stolen bases. He won the 1995 NL MVP award, three Gold Gloves and the 1990 World Series. In 1996, he became the first shortstop to have 30 homers and 30 steals in a season.
Jeff Bagwell was third at 56 percent, followed by Lee Smith (51 percent), Tim Raines (49 percent), Alan Trammell (37 percent) and Edgar Martinez (37 percent).
“I didn’t lose much sleep until two nights ago,” Larkin said on MLB Network, recounting how it felt Monday to receive the phone call informing him of his election. “It was absolutely an unbelievable experience. I felt like it was almost an out-of-body experience.”
Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home run list with 583, received 19.5 percent in his sixth try on the ballot, down from 19.8 percent last year and 23.7 percent in 2010 — a vote before he admitted using steroids and human growth hormone.
Bernie Williams received the most votes (55) among players who were eligible for the first time. Bill Mueller got just four votes and will be dropped in future years, along with Juan Gonzalez (23) and Vinny Castilla (six).
Next year’s ballot figures to be the most controversial, with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling eligible for the first time.
Larkin got 52 percent when he appeared on the ballot for the first time in 2010. He received the largest single-year percentage increase to gain election since 1948, when pitcher Herb Pennock was elected with 77.7 percent, a year after finishing with 53.4 percent.
Larkin is the 48th Hall of Famer who spent his entire career with one major league team and the third from the Reds, joining Johnny Bench and Bid McPhee.
Larkin broadcast for MLB Network from 2009-10, then moved to ESPN last year. He’s a spring training instructor for the Reds, and has gone to South Korea and Brazil as an envoy for Major League Baseball and the State Department.
Rafael Palmeiro, among just four players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray, got 72 votes and his percentage increased to 12.6 from 11 last year in his first appearance. He received a 10-day suspension in 2005 for a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, claiming it was due to a vitamin vial given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada.
Gonzalez, a two-time AL MVP implicated by Jose Canseco in steroids use, received 30 votes last year, just above the 5 percent threshold for remaining on the ballot.
In 2014, the focus will turn to elite pitchers when Greg Maddux (355 wins) and Tom Glavine (305) become eligible. Among pitchers eligible for the Hall, all 20 of the 300-game winners are in.
Morris finished with 254 victories and was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s. A postseason star, he was the ace of three World Series winners but is burdened by a 3.90 career ERA.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)