Support for Curt Schilling increases in 2016 Hall of Fame voting

Curt Schilling had 216 wins, 3,116 strikeouts, a 1.137 career WHIP, and a 3.46 career era in 3,261 innings. He retired in 2009 and received 213 votes (39.2 percent) in 2015.
Red Sox starting pitcher Curt Schilling tips his cap to the crowd. –Davis, Jim Globe Staff

Curt Schilling is getting closer to Cooperstown.

The former Red Sox pitcher did not receive enough votes to earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, but he did garner a boost in support this year. While center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. and catcher Mike Piazza were the only eligible players to appear on the necessary 75 percent of ballots, Schilling was among just four other players named by more than 50 percent of voters.

Click here for complete voting results.

In his fourth year of eligibilty, Schilling appeared on 230 ballots (52.3 percent) submitted by voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. With 440 ballots submitted this year, Schilling fell 100 votes shy of the 330 needed to reach the 75-percent threshold for election. This was the highest percentage of ballots the right-handed pitcher has appeared on since becoming eligible. He has six years remaining on the ballot.

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Schilling, a six-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion during a 20-year career that included four seasons pitching in Fenway Park, has 216 career regular-season wins to go along with 3,116 career strikeouts. In the postseason, Schilling compiled an 11-2 record with a 2.23 ERA in 19 starts. After winning the 2001 World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 and 2007.

After coming up short in his first years on the ballot, Schilling didn’t expect to get elected in 2016.

“Ultimately, I say they can’t take away the memories and the three rings, and those are the things I was able to walk away with. If it happens it would be great. I don’t expect it to happen,’’ Schilling told WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the eve of the results being revealed. “I’m not going to make a mistake this year and say it’s because I’m a Republican because I joked around about that last year and it became it’s own article when I called John Smoltz a Democrat knowing full well he’s as conservative as I am if not moreso, and I took heat for that for six months.’’

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With his 2015 comments about his Hall of Fame chances potentially being hurt by his political views still making headlines ahead of the announcement of the 2016 results, Schilling indicated he won’t be changing his beliefs or behaviors to help his chances of enshrinement.

“I don’t care. I’m not going to change who I am, do what I do, or say what I say to make people think differently of me,’’ he told Bradford. “For better or worse, and my wife would say there’s a lot of worse — and some of the GMs I played for, well, all of the GMs I played for would say the same — but I’m passionate with what I believe in. If my mouth keeps me out of the Hall of Fame then it’s a flawed process, if that’s the reason people don’t vote for me. If they don’t vote for because they don’t think I belong, then that’s absolutely a valid point.’’

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