COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Barry Larkin lost it before he even started.
Larkin, the former star shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Sunday, along with Ron Santo, a standout third baseman for the Chicago Cubs and later a beloved broadcaster for the team.
After wiping away tears as his teenage daughter sang the national anthem, Larkin began a litany of thank-yous to the important people who helped him along his journey, none more important than his mom, Shirley, and father, Robert, who were seated in the first row.
"If we were going to do something, we were going to do it right," Larkin said. "Growing up, you challenged me. That was so instrumental."
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Larkin was a two-sport star at Moeller High and thought he might become a pro football player after accepting a scholarship to play at Michigan for Bo Schembechler. That changed in a hurry.
"(Schembechler) redshirted me my freshman year and told me that he was going to allow me just to play baseball," Larkin said. "Occasionally, I'd call him while I was playing in the big leagues and told him that was the best decision he made as a football coach. He didn't like that too much."
Despite playing just 41 games in his first year, Larkin finished seventh in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 1986.
Two years later, Larkin was an All-Star with a .296 average, 91
"I played with some monumental figures in the game," Larkin said. "They helped me through some very rough times as a player."
Larkin heaped special praise on Pete Rose and Dave Concepcion, the man he would replace at shortstop.
"I wouldn't be in the big leagues if it weren't for Pete," Larkin said, eliciting stirring applause from the fans, two of whom were holding a placard inscribed with "Cincinnati's hometown heroes, Larkin and Rose."
"And Dave Concepcion, understanding that I was gunning for his job, understanding that I was from Cincinnati, he spent countless hours with me preparing me for the game," Larkin said. "I idolized Davey Concepcion as a kid. Thank you, my idol. My inclusion in the Hall of Fame is the ultimate validation. I want to thank you all for helping me along the way."
Santo didn't live to experience the day he always dreamed of. Plagued by health problems, he died in 2010 at the age of 70. His long battle with diabetes cost him both legs below the knees, but he died of complications from bladder cancer.
A member of the Chicago Cubs organization for more than three decades as a player (1960-73) and then as a broadcaster (1990-2010), Santo was selected by the Veterans Committee in December, exactly one year after his death.
His widow, Vicki Santo, said she cried a lot while practicing her speech on behalf of her late husband. Her poise was remarkable when it counted most.
"It just feels right, a perfect ending to a remarkable journey," she said. "Ron left an awful hole for many of us today. This is not a sad day. This is a great day. I'm certain that Ronnie is celebrating right now."
So, too were his beloved Cubs. They paid a tribute of their own to Santo, clicking their heels as they jumped over the third-base line -- Santo's signature move -- to start the bottom of the first inning at St. Louis on Sunday.
In 15 seasons, all but one with the Cubs, Santo was one of the top third basemen in major league history. He compiled a .277 batting average, had 2,254 hits, 1,331 RBIs and 342 home runs in 2,243 games. He also was a tireless fundraiser for juvenile diabetes, raising more than $65 million.
Two inductees were honored Saturday in a ceremony at Doubleday Field. Tim McCarver received the Ford C. Frick Award for his contributions in broadcasting, and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun was given the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for sports writing.