Exclusive interview: Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin comes to defense of Pete Rose

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Barry Larkin recently had a sit-down with AOL Sports and discussed a myriad of topics including his storied career, why he loved playing at Shea Stadium, the new rules, the upcoming playoffs and, most notably, his thoughts on Pete Rose.

Larkin, who is working with Major League Baseball's newest sponsor, Maytag, for a first-in-category sponsorship that names Maytag the official washer and dryer of MLB, is considered one of the top players of his era, winning nine Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Glove awards. He was selected to the Major League All-Star Game twelve times, and was elected the 1995 National League Most Valuable Player.

Q: How did you get involved with Maytag, the official washer and dryer of MLB?

A: Maytag was the ambassador for the All-Star Game and Major League Baseball reached out if I'd be interested. I said absolutely because I was a guy who always like to play in the dirt. So they wanted to tie that in with me and I was looking for different opportunities to be in Major League Baseball and Maytag. It was a perfect marriage, if you will.

Q: Do you miss paying?

A: I miss the competition, the camaraderie, but I don't miss the travel. I also don't miss competing at 97 to 100 miles per hour. My body was telling me it was time to finish playing. Now, my hands don't hurt and my body doesn't hurt. But I miss the guys. I miss that camaraderie and trying to win a championship and trying to go through all the stuff you go through, good or bad.

Q: You helped revolutionize the position of shortstop. Who were role models, even when you were playing?

A: Cal Ripken Jr. or Robin Yount. I think Robin Yount was the guy that I looked at that impacted the game and I was very aware of it. When he moved to the outfield, I thought, 'well, who's gonna be my shortstop now?' I just wanted to be a new class of shortstop that was both offensively and defensively-minded. I took it very personal on defensive end to field my position, but it was prideful to make contributions offensively. Combination of the two, obviously you see guys like A-Rod, though not a shortstop anymore, Correa, a kid like that, they're making an impact. I'd like to think I had a little something to do with the modern day shortstop.

Q: When you look back at your playing days, what is the one thing you're most proud of?

A: I think my consistency. Awards are awards, but the thing is, when I look back, and what I appreciate, is that I was consistent in my approach, my attitude, my acumen. My results were pretty consistent, and I think I played the game the right way. I think within the context of playing the game right way, I still achieved success.

I'm certainly proud of winning an MVP, 30-30, World Series, Hall of Fame. All that stuff is great. But all those things were a result of that. I tried to lift guys up too. Tried to challenge them. That's kinda the school I came from.

Q: Do you have strong opinions about Pete Rose?

A: Wow. I have a very strong opinion on Pete Rose. What would you like to ask me, does he belong in the Hall of Fame?

Q: Yup.

A: He's got 4,256 hits. He was my first manager. He was the guy who gave me a chance. In my first at-bat, I used Pete Rose's shoes and Pete Rose's bat, but unfortunately he took them back after game because if not, they were gonna go home with me. I mean, he's the guy who gave me my first opportunity. I'm a huge Pete Rose fan.

Actually, when the All-Star Game announced it was going to be in Cincinnati, he was the first guy I called. I asked if he wanted to do something and he was very appreciative of me thinking of him. We couldn't work it out because Major League Baseball has some restrictions of what he's capable of doing, but I have a huge place in my heart for him. What he did on the field as a baseball field, you cannot take away. He's the all-time hits king. Period.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Mets this year?

A: Cespedes has made a huge impact. In the 50 games, he's done enough to warrant MVP consideration. For them, though, it's about the pitching. Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom, they've all been tremendous. And Captain America, David Wright, he's coming back and it could not have been timed more perfectly, when he hit a homer in his first game back. I think it all starts with pitching. And remember, Flores crying because the trade -- and then the trade didn't go through. It was just a lot of great things happening. And it's great because the Mets have been down for some time. It's exciting.

Q: Who was your favorite teammate?

A: Hmmm. Juan Castro. funny, funny, funny, awesome, awesome dude.

Q: Favorite manager?

A: Pete Rose. Davey Johnson was good too, and Lou Piniella. I had a lot of great managers. Pete always tells me I was his first Hall of Fame player he managed. And he was my first Hall of Fame manager -- in my opinion, a Hall of Famer.

Q: What was your favorite ballpark to play in?

A: I loved Shea Stadium. I actually named my daughter Brielle D'Shea. I wanted to be a fighter pilot when I was a kid, so the roar of the engines always did something for me. Whenever the planes would fly over my head, it would energize me. I'm sitting there at short, or I'm hitting, and I can feel the roar of the engine. That and the fans, I loved playing there. Just loved it.

Q: Favorite baseball movie?

A: I love 'Bull Durham' and I love '42.' Those are my two. Charlie Sheen is a friend of mine, so I like 'Major League' with Wild Thing. ... Movies, I don't know, I'm more of a music kind of guy.

Q: Who's your favorite artist?

A: I listen to so many different types of music. I wouldn't say I have a favorite, I go anywhere from Marc Anthony to Elton John. A little bit of everything in between. I go from country, to hip-hop, I got Drake, a little bit of everything.

Q: Can you make your World Series prediction?

A: (Pause) No. I can't. Honestly, when the season started, I thought the Nationals were going to really run away with this. I thought the Angels were going to be much better. I certainly didn't expect the Cubs or Astros to be this good. There's still baseball to be played, and I wonder if the Mets will be able to continue doing what they've been doing. When you haven't historically won, it comes down to those last few weeks of the season. Things become real.

As far as the American League, Kansas City is for real. I'd like to see teams win that haven't always been there. It'd be nice to see the Astros, the Cubs, teams like that.

See photos of Larkin from throughout his career:
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Exclusive interview: Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin comes to defense of Pete Rose
Cincinnati Reds batter Mariano Duncan gives the number one sign as he returns to the dugout with teammate Barry Larkin who scored on Duncan's three-run fifth inning home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Monday, Oct. 8, 1990, NLCS game. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Cincinnati Reds Mariano Duncan (7) is congratulated by teammates as he returns to the dugout after scoring the 7th run of the game in the 3rd inning on a hit by Barry Larkin in World Series game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum, Friday, Oct. 20, 1990, Oakland, Calif. At right is Glenn Braggs and manager Lou Piniella. Reds won 8-3. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin does a flip after they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 at Riverfront Stadium to win the NLCS, Friday, Oct. 13, 1990, Cincinnati, Oh. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Seattle Mariners Ken Griffey Jr., left, and Cincinnati Reds Barry Larkin joke a round during All Star game workouts, Monday, July 12, 1993, Baltimore, Md. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Cincinnati Reds Barry Larkin shows off his shoes to Atlanta Braves David Justice before the All Star game workout Monday, July 12, 1993 in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Cincinnati Reds' Barry Larkin hits a single in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Divisional Playoffs in Cincinnati in this Oct. 5, 1995 photo. Larkin won the National League MVP award Wednesday Nov. 15, 1995. (AP Photo/Mark Lyons)
Actor Kelsey Grammer sings the Star Spangled Banner as Cincinnati Reds Barry Larkin, left, and San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds look on before the start of the All-Star Game, Tuesday, July 9, 1996, in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
FILE - In this Sept. 22, 1996, file photo, Cincinnati Reds' Barry Larkin acknowledges the crowd after hitting his 30th home run of the season in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Cincinnati. Larkin became the first shortstop in Major League history to hit at least 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. Larkin will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Sunday, July 22, 2012, along with late Chicago Cubs star third baseman Ron Santo. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman, File)
This is a 1999 photo of Shortstop Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this June 12, 1998, file photo, Cincinnati Reds' Barry Larkin connects on a solo home run in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. Larkin is the leading candidate to gain election to baseball Hall of Fame when voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America is announced. (AP Photo/Ken Levine, File)
Cincinnati Reds Barry Larkin points to the crowd after hitting a three-run home run against the Houston Astros in the third inning, Saturday, April 24, 1999, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)
Cincinnati Reds players celebrate after Pokey Reese, center, hit a three-run home run to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in 12 innings, Sunday, Sept. 26, 1999, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is tied for the Central Division lead with Houston. Also pictured are, left to right, Jason LaRue (26), Sean Casey, Aaron Boone (17), Barry Larkin, Eddie Taubensee, Reese, Chris Stynes (12), Greg Vaughn, Jeffrey Hammonds (4), Mark Sweeney (7), and Pete Harnisch. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Ken Griffey Jr., left, and Barry Larkin, right, enjoy a laugh during the Cincinnati Reds first full squad workout, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2000, in Sarasota, Florida. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Cincinnati Reds' Barry Larkin points to the crowd after hitting a home run off San Diego Padres pitcher Matt Clement in the fourth inning Saturday, June 24, 2000, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin wears a U.S. flag in his hat prior to the start of a game with the Chicago Cubs, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
Eric Davis, right, hugs former teammate, Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, after Davis threw out the ceremonial first pitch, Saturday, July 20, 2002, in Cincinnati. Davis was in town promoting colon cancer education, and was also honored with an Eric Davis bobblehead doll give away. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Cincinnati Reds' Barry Larkin runs to second base as he hits a three-run double in the seventh inning against the Atlanta Brave sat Cinergy Field in Cincinnati Sunday, June 2, 2002. (AP Photo/David Kohl)
Former President George Bush hugs Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Great American Ball Park prior to their opening game with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Monday, March 31, 2003, in Cincinnati. The Reds were playing their first game in the new park. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin throws out Atlanta Braves' Mark DeRosa in the eighth inning, Tuesday, April 20, 2004, in Cincinnati. Larkin had two hits and two rbi's in the Reds 3-2 win. Umpire Tony Randazzo is at rear. (AP Photo/David Kohl)
Milwaukee Brewers' Scott Podsednik steals second as Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin waits for the ball in the third inning Saturday, July 10, 2004, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Peter Zuzga)
Cincinnati Reds' Barry Larkin takes a curtain call after hitting a pinch-hit grand slam off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Steve Kline in the fifth inning, Wednesday, July 28, 2004, in Cincinnati. St. Louis won 11-10. (AP Photo/David Kohl)
** CORRECTS INNING TO SECOND ** Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aaron Harang gets support from teammates Barry Larkin, left, and catcher Jason LaRue after giving up a home run to Houston Astros' Jeff Kent in the second inning in Cincinnati Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin sits in the stands with daughters, Brielle, left, and Symber, center, after he was taken out of a game with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2004, in Cincinnati. Pittsburgh won 2-0. Larkin, who made the National League All-Star team at the age of 40, doesn't know if he will be back with the Reds next season. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin prepares to bat during their game with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2004, in Cincinnati. Larkin, who made the National League all-star team at the age of 40, doesn't know if he will be back with the Reds next season. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Chinese National Team coach and former Major League Baseball player and former Olympian, Barry Larkin, of the United States, speaks at a news conference Saturday, March 15, 2008, in Beijing, China. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin laughs during a news conference before he was inducted into Reds Hall of Fame before a Reds game against the New York Mets in Cincinnati, Saturday, July 19. 2008. (AP Photo/Tony Tribble)
FILE - In this July 19, 2008 file photo, Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Fame 2008 inductee Barry Larkin holds up his plaque after ceremonies before a Reds and New York Mets baseball game in Cincinnati. Larkin has been elected to baseball's Hall of Fame. The shortstop received 86 percent of the vote in balloting announced Monday, Jan. 9, 2012 by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. (AP Photo/ Tony Tribble, File)
FILE - In this May 5, 2012, file photo, Hall of Fame inductee Barry Larkin speaks with reporters following a tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. Larkin will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Sunday, July 22, along with late Chicago Cubs star third baseman Ron Santo. (AP Photo/Tim Roske, File)
Former Cincinnati Reds star Barry Larkin arrives on stage for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Sunday, July 22, 2012, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)
Former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin throws out a ceremonial first pitch during ceremonies retiring his No.11 prior to a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Former Cincinnati Reds shortstops Barry Larkin (11) and Davey Concepcion (13) walk off the field after throwing out ceremonial first pitches prior to a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, March 31, 2014, on opening day in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)
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