Curt Schilling’s Hall of Fame candidacy elicits debate and controversy among national baseball writers, but could this finally be the year the former Red Sox great gets inducted into Cooperstown?
Schilling’s pitching merits alone — a dazzling strikeout-to-walk ratio, a career 2.23 postseason ERA, and three World Series titles — leave him right on the verge of Hall of Fame inclusion.
But it’s the off-field drama that adds another level to Schilling’s case. Since his retirement from baseball, Schilling’s right-wing political views, which he has openly shared on social media, have gotten him fired from ESPN and caused voters to question his character when selecting him for the Hall of Fame.
The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, Seattle-based writer Kirby Arnold, and national baseball scribe Jon Heyman are a few voters who have taken Schilling’s name off their ballots in the past because of his character.
Now in his eighth year on the ballot, the controversy around Schilling and the Hall of Fame has died down a bit. He reached the 60 percent threshold in 2019, marking a 15 percent jump from the previous year.
Voters seem to be coming around on Schilling, but he still needs another 15 percent increase to gain entry into the Hall of Fame in 2020. According to Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame vote tracker, 41 percent of ballots have been made public so far and nearly 80 percent of them have voted for Schilling.
Ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, here is what national baseball writers are saying about Schilling’s Hall of Fame candidacy.
See more from his conversation with Bob Costas on Monday. pic.twitter.com/19y3JT3olL
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 17, 2020
Jayson Stark, The Athletic
“It’s Year No. 8 on the ballot for Schilling. And I’m still wondering: If Twitter had never been invented, wouldn’t he have been elected long ago? I’m not planning to be a voter for the Hall of Twitter. But I’ve cast a lot of Hall of Fame votes for Schilling. And I’m still repeating the same glittering credentials that paint the vivid portrait of a Hall of Fame starting pitcher.”
Dan Connolly, The Athletic Baltimore
“At one point, I dropped Curt Schilling off my ballot for a year, not because I was making some political stance but because he fell to 11th on my list based on accomplishments. The whole time he has been eligible, I’ve regarded Schilling as a Hall-of-Famer, but sometimes not as worthy as 10 others. He made it back last year, and I imagine he will stay on mine until he is inducted or is snubbed 10 official times. No matter what he says.”
Marc Carig, The Athletic
“His resume includes three World Series championships, one World Series MVP (in 2001) and one infamous bloody sock. In 19 postseason starts, which covered 133 1/3 innings, he posted a 2.23 ERA. He was a polarizing figure even amongst his teammates. But you know what? The game is better with villains, and Schilling continues to be an all-time heel.”
Mark Saxon, The Athletic St. Louis
“The instructions to all voters are right there on the ballot. ‘Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.'”
“It has become known as the ‘character clause,’ and it is the reason I left Schilling off my ballot. I understand that some players are going to have different values than I or other voters might and that some players are going to have extreme political or social opinions. Those views are constitutionally protected, but we’re instructed to take a player’s integrity and character into consideration when voting. And I believe this is about more than politics.”
Ryan Fagan, Sporting News
“He had six seasons with a WAR of at least 6.0, struck out at least 293 batters four times and led his league in full games four times. I didn’t hear anyone say, ‘But he didn’t win a Cy Young award,’ because that’s nonsense. He finished second three times, when he had WAR of 8.8, 8.7 and 7.9. Those are amazing seasons.”
“As for Schilling’s public heel turn, let’s just say I will not listen to his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, and I kind of hate that my vote will help eventually give him that stage. But what he did on the field — with his 3,116 strikeouts and 79.9 WAR leading his resume — undeniably earned a spot in Cooperstown.”
The San Fransisco Chronicle
Four out of the six writers have Schilling on their ballot.
“Schilling is back on after a year off because of last year’s packed ballot,” Oakland A’s beat writer Susan Slusser said.
Five of six writers voted for Schilling.
“I’ve vacillated on Schilling; this year, I decided to choose a side,” Chris Haft said. “His productivity was definitely good enough.
Chris Cwik, Yahoo Sports
While Chris Cwik doesn’t have a vote for the Hall of Fame, he wrote a column Friday explaining why Schilling doesn’t deserve to be in Cooperstown.
“His induction would be an egregious mistake,” Cwik said. ” A vote for Schilling is confirmation that none of the abhorrent language he’s pushed since his retirement matters. Schilling isn’t held accountable for spreading hate speech or dangerous views. Instead, he gets rewarded with the largest possible platform and the most prestigious title in baseball. It’s a slap in the face to the marginalized groups Schilling has targeted over the past couple years.”
In a recent interview with MLB Network’s Bob Costas, Schilling said he doesn’t think he’ll make it this year.
“The trend has usually been that players will drop a certain amount of percentage between the public and the private ballots,” Schilling said. “And I don’t think I’m high enough able that 75 [percent need for election] for the tail-off not to get me.”
More ballots with subsequent reasoning will be made public in the coming days. The Hall of Fame Class of 2020 will be announced Tuesday at 3 p.m.