CINCINNATI — Shortstop Barry Larkin got death threats when he spoke out against racial bias during Marge Schott's ownership of the Cincinnati Reds, showing him firsthand about prejudice.
Larkin will be back in town this weekend to broadcast a Reds game for the first time as part of Major League Baseball's Civil Rights weekend, honoring those who have fought for equality. Larkin will do commentary for the MLB Network's broadcast of a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.
It's an appropriate setting for calling his first Reds game.
Larkin was the Reds' team captain in the 1990s, when Schott made racially and ethnically inflammatory comments and was repeatedly suspended by baseball. Larkin didn't hide from the issue, and learned there was a cost to speaking out against prejudice.
It came in the mail.
"I was told I needed to be quiet and just be thankful I had a job and basically, I wasn't supposed to have an opinion," Larkin said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I don't know who it was that sent the hate mail. I gave all of that to the FBI because they wanted to make sure we were protected as players and as citizens."
Before the game on Saturday, Larkin will be part of a panel discussion on baseball and the civil rights movement. Baseball will present its annual Beacon Awards to Hall of Famer Willie Mays, tennis player Billie Jean King and entertainer Harry Belafonte, a civil rights activist.
Larkin, now 46, said he was aware of the racial divide when he was growing up, but didn't encounter much prejudice in Cincinnati.
Larkin has been an MLB analyst, but hasn't done a Reds game. "I'm hoping this will be something that happens more often," Larkin said. "It is special. I think it's something I'll be very comfortable with."