By Cameron Stuart | Radio Director
Tuesday night saw four accomplished Major League Baseball players get the phone call they’ve waited and worked for their entire life. When the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its newest inductees, some names were notably absent. Amid massive cheating scandals, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds once again didn’t get 75 percent of the votes necessary for induction.
Another man also didn’t get the necessary vote tally to make “The Hall,” but it was not because of performance-enhancing drugs, being a bad teammate or a deadbeat dad. Curt Schilling isn’t being put in the Hall of Fame because he is a Republican.
To the national media, it is not so much a problem that Schilling is a Republican but rather that he is not ashamed of it. He has appeared on the campaign trail for both George W. Bush and John McCain and voiced his support for Donald Trump during the 2016 election. In 2018, he nearly ran against incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the Republican ticket in Massachusetts in the Senate election.
Without question, Schilling has played his part in a fair share of controversies, but his rocky relationship with the media has not made the situations any less serious. He was fired from his job at ESPN in 2016 for sharing (not posting) a meme on Facebook that might be seen as offensive to transgender people. According to CNN Business, former ESPN president John Skipper told his employees in a memo that ESPN “is not a political organization.” Not yet 18 months after Schilling lost his job for re-posting a meme, ESPN anchor Jemele Hill was suspended for just two weeks after calling the president of the United States a “white supremacist.” These situations beg the question of whether ESPN is an apolitical organization or just apolitical when the views are conservative.
Back in his adopted home of Massachusetts, the vitriol from the media was just as brutal. It is clear that he is not getting any sort of backing from the Boston Red Sox organization. This is, mind you, the same organization that he led to the first World Series title in 86 years and pitched a do-or-die Game Six at Yankee Stadium on practically one leg following surgery the morning of the game. Instead, the team’s owners, who publicly campaigned for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, have condemned him, going so far as to not invite him to a 2004 team reunion during Game One of the 2018 World Series.
Longtime Boston Globe Red Sox beat writer and columnist Dan Shaughnessy has been the leader among baseball writers advocating to leave Schilling out of the Hall of Fame. After Schilling retweeted a post showing a T-shirt joking about lynching journalists, Shaughnessy vocally withdrew his support for the former Red Sox player. In fact, Shaughnessy told NBC Sports Boston in 2016 that he would be invoking the “character clause” on the Hall of Fame ballot, designed to keep cheaters and criminals out.
We hear about Schilling’s controversies, yet never about his philanthropy. He started “Curt’s Pitch for ALS,” which donated money to those suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease with each strikeout he recorded, earning him the Branch Rickey Award for baseball’s most charitable professional in 2001. According to WEEI, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Schilling drove a truck filled with food, water and survival supplies for two days from Medfield, Mass., to Houston. While the mainstream media has tried to make him out to be a villain because of pictures he shares on social media, his actions tell a totally different story.
Aside from being railroaded by the press for what he did off the field, Schilling’s career itself is deserving of a Hall of Fame induction. While his 216 career wins may not seem like enough, he is one of just two eligible pitchers with 3,000 strikeouts not to be in the Hall already, according to Baseball-Reference. The only other pitcher with 3,000 strikeouts to not yet grace the Hall of Fame is the aforementioned Roger Clemens, a proven steroid user.
Compared to 2019 inductee Mike Mussina, Schilling looks like one of the best pitchers of all time. According to Baseball-Reference, Schilling has a lower ERA than Mussina (3.46 to 3.68), more career strikeouts (3,116 to 2,813) and a lower WHIP (1.137 to 1.192). Schilling has also led the league in wins and strikeouts, and he started more often than Mussina. Schilling won 20 games in a season three times while Mussina could not accomplish it till his 19th and final Major League season.
Schilling is also the greatest postseason pitcher in the history of baseball. With a career playoff record of 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 133 innings pitched and a World Series MVP award in 2001, no one comes close to Schilling’s performances when it matters most. His postseason performance alone can carry him to the Hall of Fame with a fair shake.
Then again, the Baseball Hall of Fame is a place for men of outstanding character as well as contributions to the game. That is why, of course, they have alleged child molester Bill Conlin honored as the 2011 recipient of the J. G. Taylor Spink award given for career achievement as a baseball writer. They also welcomed in Bobby Cox in 2014, who was arrested in 1995 for beating his wife. The plaque of Orlando Cepeda still graces its hallowed hallways even with his federal criminal status for smuggling 165 pounds of marijuana to the San Juan International Airport, according to an interview he did with Steve Springer in 1985. Steve Carlton, who told Philadelphia magazine in 1994 that “AIDS was created at a secret Maryland biological warfare laboratory” to “get rid of gays and blacks,” got 95.8 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility and was enshrined just a few months later with one of the highest voting percentages in history. Yet, the character clause was never evoked on any of those pillars of the game. No, it was saved for Schilling.
It’s time for baseball writers to take a look at who they want in the Hall of Fame. While a man who allegedly molested his own niece is honored among baseball’s greatest, a humanitarian, family man and darn good baseball player is kept out because he supports the political party in power in our country.