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Barry Larkin Joins TV Booth In Reds Broadcast Team Shakeup

John Kiesewetter
Barry Larkin broadcasting ESPN's pregame show from Crosley Terrace before the Reds 2014 Opening Day game.

After the Reds suspended Thom Brennaman in August for a homophobic slur during a TV game, Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larking offered his services to Reds COO Phil Castelinni.

"I told him I'd be willing to help, if he needed me to do so," Larkin told reporters during a Reds video conference Tuesday announcing he will join Fox Sports Ohio's Reds TV team this year. Castellini "told me, 'Not now, but maybe.' And I didn't know what that meant at the time, but now I know what that means."

Larkin, former Reds team captain, says he will be color analyst for all 81 home games with John Sadak, the new play-by-play TV voice.  Sadak was hired Feb. 4 to replace Brennaman, who resigned in September.  

TV analyst Chris Welsh, entering his 29th Reds TV season, for the first time also will regularly do some Reds radio games. Jeff "The Cowboy" Brantley will continue doing both for a 15th season.

Credit John Kiesewetter

Former Reds reliever Danny Graves, and Big Red Machine utility infielder Doug Flynn, have been dropped from the Reds broadcast team, confirms Kate Zelasko, Fox Sports Ohio publicist.

Larkin, 56, a Silverton native who played all his 19 seasons for the Reds, says he looks forward to teaching baseball to viewers.

"I love teaching the game of baseball," he says. "I can talk about what's happening, critique the play, and talk about what was attempted to be done in a certain situation."

Larkin did not know if FSO – soon to change its name to Bally Sports Ohio – will use a three-man booth with Sadak and two analysts. The Reds have not done that in the past.

Credit Courtesy Cincinnati Reds

"You know, I worked with Cowboy. Heck, I played with Cowboy and Chris Welsh, and I'm looking forward to working with both of those because I like talking baseball with baseball guys, and they're both very knowledgeable. (They were) pitchers nonetheless, but still knowledgeable about the game," he says with a laugh.

Larkin, who retired from the Reds in 2004, transitioned to TV in 2009 as part of the inaugural team on the MLB Network. He was an analyst on MLB Tonight and the Hot Stove, then joined ESPN in 2011 as an analyst for Baseball Tonight, the Sunday Night Baseball pregame show, spring training coverage and the College World Series.

At MLB Network and ESPN, Larkin enjoyed demonstrating the finer points of hitting, fielding and base running. "That's what pushed me toward doing more games, because I like the real-time analysis work," he says.

Larkin threw a ceremonial first pitch on 2014 Opening Day after doing ESPN's pregame show from Crosley Terrace with Karl Ravech. His idol Dave Concepcion, the Big Red Machine shortstop he replaced in 1987, also threw a ceremonial pitch at the same time.

The 1995 National League Most Valuable Player and a 12-time All-Star gave credit to his mentors, former Reds and ESPN sportscaster George Grande, and Hall of Famer and former ESPN Sunday Night Baseball commentator Joe Morgan, who started his TV career as the Reds TV analyst on WLWT-TV in 1985.

Morgan, who died last year, "talked to me about the broadcast booth. So I've been interested in it for a while," Larkin says.

Since 2015, Larkin has worked for the Reds as a player performance special assistant and roving minor league instructor. How or if he continues in that role is a "fluid situation" with General Manager Nick Krall, with whom he talks regularly.

Larkin also says he will not move to Cincinnati. He recently sold his Orlando home so he and his wife Lisa could relocate to South Florida and be close to a daughter who lives in Miami.

One thing he does know for certain: He's not interested in managing the team.

"Let me just say this right now, and I'm glad you asked that question. This in no way is any attempt to get me any closer to get me managing the Cincinnati Reds. I'm a David Bell fan and I support him, and want him to do well," Larkin says.

"I know the last time I mentioned it" when Bryan Price was manager "it was construed – or misconstrued – as me saying that I'd like to manage, and it just created some bad feelings which really weren't there, but it is what it is. If a manager's situation becomes available in the future, I'd look at it but that's not really what I'm here to do."

The 2021 Reds broadcast TV team listed on the Reds website includes sidelines reporter Jim Day, who will resume his podcasts during spring training. Fox Sports Ohio's Reds Live pregame and postgame shows will be hosted by Brian Giesenschlag and Sam LeCure, "with Welsh serving on the desk for select games and Charlie Walter filling in for Giesenschlag throughout the season," the Reds noted in the Larkin announcement. Fox Sports Ohio has not announced its 2021 Reds spring training TV schedule. 

Tommy Thrall will start his third Reds radio season – and second as main play-by-play announcer – later this month. Dave "Yiddy" Armbruster returns for his 36th season as Reds radio producer on flagship station WLW-AM. He also produces and hosts the radio pregame and postgame shows. The Reds radio network, which includes 113 stations in seven states, was the third-biggest MLB radio network last season.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.