The Other Larkin

When I was a kid and I saw the name ‘Larkin’ in the Minnesota Twins box score on some mornings, I thought that maybe Barry Larkin had a long lost brother out there playing for the Minnesota Twins. When you’re a kid, you think dumb things like that. I had these fantasies of the Reds trading for this other Larkin in this other league, re-uniting the Larkin brothers for some dominance in Cincinnati.

Then I saw Gene Larkin on television one night and something was terribly wrong. He was white. How could this be? Not only was he a different skin color than his ‘brother’ Barry, but he was nothing like him in athletic stature. He was slow, he was ordinary, he had a short and prickly looking unkempt mustache.

And somehow Gene carved out a seven season big league career in one city and tasted glory on the highest stage of them all. He got the hit that won the 1991 World Series Championship for the Minnesota Twins. This coming just a year after brother Barry got their first with the Reds.

He’s definitely the worst player to ever get a World Series game-winning hit. And yes, that is including Craig Counsell who was incredibly Gene Larkin-like.

You look at his stats and you see some things that make you wonder why he wasn’t a full-time regular. Look at his 1988, his second season in baseball. He had 30 doubles and drove in 70 runs. But his strikeout ratio was 1:1 (actually a little worse). He had no speed. He had no power. He homered 4, 8, 6, 5, 2, 6, and 1 times in that order in his career. This is no good for a slow white guy who is a DH/First Baseman. Career OPS of .723, even worse.

If you needed a guy in your lineup to hit .267, he’d hit .267 for you. If you needed a guy to hit .280 or .290 in your lineup, he’d go out and hit you .267.

It’s a damn good thing that he won that World Series in the early 90’s for the Twinkies. Because although they’ve been turning out Gene Larkins for the last couple decades, the weaponry that he has in his repertoire just wouldn’t cut it nowadays. What do you think Gene Larkin would do if he was in the big leagues every day present day? You think he could hit .220? I think you’re more likely to see a guy like Gene Larkin in his prime down at the bar playing Golden Tee or being the best guy in the place at darts.

But if he was 24 years old right now and wanted to be a big leaguer–they would tell him that he would be better served at something else. He is proof that the modern day athlete has evolved and aspired to be something more.

He’s also one of just seven Twins to appear in both the 1987 and 1991 World Series. Another one of them being Al Newman, who was also Hideous.