By Nate Temple
A native of Cincinnati, OH, Steve Larkin dreamed of playing ball at the highest level. In high school, he was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball, and baseball), and when he decided that baseball was for him, he poured in all of his efforts to try to become the best he could be.
Growing up, he was inspired by watching his brothers, Barry and Byron, become successful. Barry was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012, and Byron was an All-American basketball player at Xavier University.
Their success made him hungry to follow in their footsteps.
After graduating from Moeller High School, Steve played college baseball at the University of Texas in the old Southwest Conference under former Longhorn skipper Cliff Gustaffson. During the summer, he played in the Alaskan Summer League to try to improve his game and get looked at by Major League scouts.
In 1994, he was drafted in the 10th round (281st overall) by the Texas Rangers.
Larkin spent seven years in the farm system. Those years included the formerly known Charleston AlleyCats (now named the West Virginia Power), an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds at the time after he was traded on August 16, 1995, to the Reds in exchange for Craig Worthington.
The deal proved dividends in his efforts to get to “The Show.” While he was in the Instructional League down in Florida, he was brought into the coach’s office. While he thought negatively heading to the office, he ended up receiving some of the best news in his life: he got called up to the Cincinnati Reds.
“I was down in Florida in the Instructional League, and I got called into the office,” Larkin said as he started to chuckle. “I thought I was in trouble. The manager says, ‘well I have good news for you: you’re going to Cincinnati.’ We go back into the equipment room and he said that I needed to get bats and a uniform. Then, it kind of hit me that I was going [to the Major Leagues]. It was an unreal feeling.”
Larkin’s only game that he played in Major League Baseball (MLB) was on September 27, 1998, the last game of the regular season. He went 1-for-3 at the plate and played in the only game in its history where two sets of siblings started in the infield. Steve and his brother, Barry, started at first and short, respectively. Bret Boone manned second base, and his brother, Aaron, set up shop at third base.
“I had fun,” Larkin said. “Once you get on the field, it’s the same game that you were playing since you were six years old. There is a couple more people there, but it’s the same game when you get in between the lines and they say ‘play ball.’”
“It was really exciting. The best part was seeing my Mom smiling in the stands, and we just went out there, played hard, and had fun.”
After hanging up the spikes in 2005, Larkin decided to stay involved in the game by coaching. Before coming to the Miners, he was involved with MLB International through instructional camps and helped coach the Dayton Docs of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.
As he continues to learn the game everyday from the coaching aspect, he shares it with his players. In the Prospect League, scouts look at players, and while he doesn’t worry about them, Larkin stresses to remain even keel mentally, work hard, and have fun.
“The one thing I would like to tell them is that you never know who is watching,” he said. “I want that one kid that has never seen a baseball game before to come to the ballpark and say ‘wow, that guy looks like he is having fun and working hard out there.’”
Baseball is a game of adjustments. After reflecting back on his career, there was only one thing that he would like to have done “more of.”
“The one thing I would try to get more of is get info from different people around the game,” Larkin said. “I tell these guys everyday to learn something new every time they come to the ballpark. Even if it is one thing, learn something new everyday.”
“The experience that you get in baseball from baseball players is the best thing because the more you play, the more you learn.”