"Barry has tremendous insight into the game, and will be a great addition to our growing on-air talent roster," said Tony Petitti, President and Chief Executive Officer of MLB Network. "Barry has built a reputation within the baseball community both for his skills as a player, and his extensive work with the Washington Nationals and the Chinese National Baseball Team."
"I'm excited to join my new team," said Larkin. "It's great to be part of something from the development stages, and I'm looking forward to working with the group to build a great program."
A 19-year Major Leaguer and 12-time National League All-Star who spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds, Larkin most recently has served as Special Assistant to the General Manager for the Washington Nationals since 2005, specializing in player development and scouting. Larkin also participated in Major League Baseball's efforts, led by Jim Lefebvre, to develop and train the Chinese National Baseball Team in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Larkin was selected by the Reds in the first round (fourth overall) in 1985 following a standout career at the University of Michigan. Larkin batted .353 in the 1990 World Series to help lead the Reds to a four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics. He won three consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove Awards from 1994-96. He earned 1995 N.L. MVP honors by hitting .319 with 15 home runs, 66 RBI and 51 stolen bases. In 1996, Larkin became the first Major League shortstop to join the 30-30 club when he hit 33 home runs and stole 36 bases. Larkin was named the Reds' captain before the 1997 season. Larkin batted .295, with 2,340 hits, 198 home runs, 960 RBI, 1,329 runs scored and 379 stolen bases. Baseball historian Bill James has called Larkin one of the greatest shortstops of all time, ranking him #6 all-time in his New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.
In 1993, Larkin won the Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball's highest off-field honor, for his philanthropy. In 2008, Larkin released a charity wine called "Barry Larkin's Merlot," with 100% of his proceeds supporting Champions Sports Foundation.
MLB Tonight will air live beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern until the final MLB game of the night ends between Monday and Saturday, and will be based out of MLB Network's headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey. The program will feature live look-ins of games in progress, updates, highlights, reporting and analysis. Hot Stove, will air during the off-season at 7 p.m. Eastern Monday through Friday and feature news, reports, and analysis of the moves clubs are making and planning in preparation for the upcoming season.
Projected to launch in approximately 50 million cable and satellite homes on Jan. 1, 2009, MLB Network will be the largest debut in cable television history, exceeding any other cable television launch by approximately 20 million. With live games, original programming, highlights, classic games, and coverage of baseball events, MLB Network will be the ultimate television destination for baseball fans on television.