But Larkin knew enough that this wasn't his year to be enshrined. Needing to be on 75 percent of the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballots to gain election, Larkin's name was picked on 278 of the 539 ballots cast for 51.6 percent of the vote.
"That's support. That's good," a cheerful Larkin said by phone after being told of his vote total. "I was more surprised about Robbie Alomar."
Dawson received 77.9 percent of the vote and was followed by near-miss Bert Blyleven, who was a mere five votes shy at 74.2 percent. Alomar notched 73.7 percent.
Like Alomar, Larkin was on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.
The bad news for Larkin is that his vote total wasn't really near the 75 percent benchmark like Alomar. Many predictions expected that he would end up being much closer.
The good news for Larkin is that his total for the first try indicates that he will someday be granted access to Cooperstown by the voters.
"I didn't think he'd go in on the first ballot," said Reds radio voice Marty Brennaman, who entered the Hall as the 2000 Ford Frick Award winner. "I'm impressed he got 51 percent. With that percentage, he's a mortal lock for the Hall of Fame. I think this bodes well for him in the future."
Larkin's chances for the Hall look even better compared to other great shortstops who have been snubbed by voters. His contemporary, former Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell, received only 22.7 percent of the vote on his seventh attempt.
Davey Concepcion, Larkin's predecessor in Cincinnati, spent the maximum 15 years of the writers' ballot and never reached higher than 16.9 percent. Concepcion's only chance for induction now is via the Veterans' Committee vote.
With his hometown Reds from 1986-2004, Larkin batted .295 lifetime with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 2,340 hits, a .371 on-base percentage and 379 stolen bases. He was a 12-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner, a member of the 1990 World Series championship team and the '95 National League Most Valuable Player.
Along with Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., Larkin is credited for lighting the path for shortstops with more offensive prowess.
"I had the opportunity last year to talk to [2009 inductee] Jim Rice. He got in on the 15th try," Larkin said. "He said there isn't anything you can do. You're just happy to be considered. The numbers are the numbers and you did what you did. There's no going back to do anything different.
"If they decide to put me in, they'll decide. It's gratifying to be considered and an honor to be on the ballot. To be inducted would be even greater."