By Dave Lubich
Mike Cameron has seen it all. He’s seen Barry Larkin grow into a Hall of Famer before his eyes. He’s seen Ken Griffey, Jr. go from high school ball to debuting in the Majors as a teenager.
Cameron, who’s worked as an official scorer for the Reds the past four seasons, coached both players at Cincinnati’s Archbishop Moeller High School.
“At that same comparable age, Griffey, in my mind, was the more sure bet to play in the Major Leagues,” Cameron said. “He had extraordinary power for a high school senior. He was more polished and it seemed to come more natural for Ken than Barry.”
Larkin graduated from Moeller in 1982, Griffey, Jr. graduated five years later in 1987.
“Barry was very well scouted. I was very comfortable that Barry was going to get a chance to be a Major League player. With Ken, everyone knew he was going to be a Major Leaguer. We had the GMs of teams, the top dogs, coming to watch Ken play at Moeller. Barry had to develop a little bit more.”
Larkin did develop and was selected 51st overall in the 1982 Draft by his hometown team.
“The first time he was drafted by the Reds, it was pretty well determined that he was going to go to college at Michigan,” Cameron said. “His mother wanted him to go, and he went."
It was hardly a surprise Cincinnati selected Larkin again three years later, this time with the fourth overall pick.
“The Reds contacted him a bunch that year to make sure he was going to be signable," Cameron said. "His mother felt comfortable the second time around. She felt he had the experience of college and she felt like he could go back and finish.”
Cameron has stayed close to Larkin and will make the trip to Cooperstown for the shortstop’s election into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
“I’m still waiting to find out what that emotion will be like for me,” Cameron said. “At this point, I’m very honored and humbled to be a part of a career that has made it to the Hall of Fame. To be honest, I don’t know if I’m going to laugh, cry or jump up and down. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”
Fellow Reds official scorer and Moeller baseball coach Ron Roth said Cameron was not only a part of Larkin’s career, but instrumental in his development as a person. Roth also pointed out that as several big leaguers, including Larkin, Griffey and Buddy, David and Mike Bell have passed through Moeller, there has been one constant: Mike Cameron.
“How many high school programs and high school coaches can say they had the MVP in both the American and National Leagues? I don’t think too many can say that,” Roth said. “He’s given 40 years of his life to educating these kids. He feels that winning is a byproduct of hard work, dedication and desire. To me, a part of him is getting elected into the Hall of Fame with Barry."