(COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.) — Barry Larkin and the late Ron Santo got their plaques in Cooperstown on Sunday and are now official members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Santo, who battled diabetes his entire adult life, passed away after a battle with bladder cancer on Dec. 3, 2010. Santo’s widow, Vicki, accepted on his behalf.
“Words cannot express my sorrow that Ron Santo didn’t live to see this day, that he’s not here to give this speech,” Vicki said of the late Santo who was passed over by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for 15 years. “I’d rather have Ron up here than me.”
Santo retired in 1974 after 14 years with the Cubs and played one season — his last — with the White Sox, began his broadcasting career with the Cubs shortly after.
“Ron Santo was born to play baseball, he said his ability to play baseball was a God given gift,” Santo said. “That playing the game was easy, that it was only the diabetes that made the game hard.”
Larkin, who was born and raised in Cincinnati, played all 19 seasons with his hometown Reds, was selected after only waiting three years.
“I, like many other young players at the time, grew up dreaming about the honor to play for the Reds and represent the city of Cincinnati,” said Larkin of his first game in the big leagues under manager Pete Rose. “I want to just thank Pete (Rose) for the opportunity, I wouldn’t have been in the big leagues if he didn’t give me that opportunity.”
Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez are three other Reds who Larkin joins in the Hall of Fame.
“Every player wants to be successful, every player wants to win, every player wants to feel appreciated and looks for validation,” a joyful Larkin said. “My inclusion in the Hall of Fame is the ultimate validation and I want to thank you all for helping me along the way.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
John Newsome and Anne Woolsey, CNN