This Hall of Fame election was important to me obviously because of Barry, but there was another player whom I liked as a kid who did not make the cut, either. That was Roberto Alomar.
My mother and I once went shopping at an outlet mall soon after the Orioles had changed their caps from the cartoon bird to the realistic one they still wear today. The outlet store had a bunch of baseball caps for a deep discount. I picked up an Orioles cap, the same Orioles cap I wear when I go to Camden Yards these days. (I also picked up another one but I won't say which team because it is shameful.) They were good then, and their DP combo was something else, though their shortstop moved to third base soon after.
I wore that cap around Miami University's campus (alternating with the shameful cap) during my college days. I liked to watch Alomar play. Who didn't? When he went to Cleveland, I was happy about that. But his career withered and faded too early.
I suppose that even if it weren't Larkin's time to enshrine, Alomar's election would be a big deal to me. Why? Because I was old enough to watch his entire career. I have his Donruss Rated Rookie card and that card with the Alomar family. I remember Andre Dawson from the times I watched him on WGN, but I didn't see the beginning of his career, and I was too young to remember most of it. But Alomar? I saw the whole thing and was aware of how good he was. That's what it's going to be like from here on out with these Hall of Fame elections. I watched their entire careers. Sure, I saw most of Cal Ripken Jr, Tony Gwynn, Ryne Sandberg, and Ozzie Smith's careers, but I did not know who they were in 1983, not like I knew Barry Larkin or Roberto Alomar or Mark McGwire (who should have gone in last year) when they were rookies.
It's not the most pleasant feeling, this aging thing. A bit disconcerting.