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Larkin's induction 'awesome' for those close to him

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- When Barry Larkin retired from the Reds as a player in 2004, he showed his appreciation to clubhouse manager Rick Stowe by giving him a brand-new Mercedes. Stowe still proudly drives the same car today.

Stowe's family, namely his father, Bernie, and brother, Mark, have been part of the Reds family going back to the 1940s.

"Humility, professionalism and patience comes to mind when I think of Bernie, Mark and Rick, and the job that they perform in taking care of all the players in the clubhouse, both home and visitor players," Larkin said during his speech. "You guys have always been the best. I wanted to acknowledge you guys."

Rick Stowe was among a very large contingent of Reds personnel that were sitting front and center Sunday as Larkin accepted enshrinement into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

"I saw Barry in the Hall yesterday," Stowe said. "I said 'Barry, you know what? This has got to be the same feeling my dad felt when Johnny [Bench], Tony [Perez], Joe [Morgan] and Sparky [Anderson] went in. It's unbelievable how proud I am of him, and seeing all the hard work and everything that he went through. And seeing it come to this, the highest pinnacle of a career, and to come up here and see it live. I think all players should come up here and see a Hall of Fame induction. This whole weekend has been absolutely awesome."

That's how it works with Larkin. If you're a friend, you're likely going to be a friend for life.

That was certainly the case with former player Dave Parker, who was one of the first friends and mentors Larkin had when he joined the Reds in 1986 as a rookie.

"I'm very proud of him," Parker said. "He's one of my baseball sons, and we had a very close relationship the years we were together. We maintained that through now."

Parker realized quickly that Larkin would be a great player.

"He had outstanding quickness, good hands, great balance and could throw off-balance better than anybody I had seen at that time," Parker said. "I knew he was destined to be a star in the Major Leagues, and he was. He did it for 19 years."

Throughout the weekend, Larkin was joined in the celebration of his career by numerous Reds luminaries -- including the ownership group of the Castellini and Williams families, namely CEO Bob Castellini. Also on hand were general manager Walt Jocketty, Bench, Perez, Morgan and about two dozen staff from the front office. Actor Charlie Sheen, a big Reds fan, was also among invited guests in the crowd.

"This is special," said former Reds teammate and close friend Eric Davis. "You hear about it and see it on TV, but there is no experience like actually being here and seeing the festivities from Friday all the way up to today. It's outstanding."

During a video montage of Larkin's career just before his speech, it was Davis who did the talking about his friend's greatness. And Larkin later spoke highly of Davis, crediting him for teaching him his work ethic. It was in an offseason early in his career when Larkin was extended an invitation by Davis to come to his home in Los Angeles.

"Being from Cincinnati at 22 years old, I'm thinking, 'Yeah, I'm going to go to L.A., going to have fun ... really enjoy myself," Larkin said. "Well, the next morning we are out there, 7:00 in the morning, running up and down the hills in Woodland Hills, California. I understood then that it's a little bit different ballgame now. As a young player, Eric set the tone for me, the standard for me. He demonstrated the work ethic and the effort, the commitment that was required of me to be successful at the big league level."

"It's two individuals that had a lot of admiration and respect for one another. He was like a little brother, at times," Davis said.

Like Parker, Stowe learned early on that Larkin would have a memorable career.

"I'll never forget [former coach] George Scherger, a great baseball mind, was sitting there when I was out on the bench. He looked at me and said, 'You see that guy there? He's going to make you some money. He's that special.' This was his first week up in the big leagues. He was right."