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Is Schilling on verge of joining Hall of Fame?

@SteveGilbertMLB
November 16, 2020

PHOENIX -- Could this be the year that former D-backs right-hander Curt Schilling makes it into the National Baseball Hall of Fame? The 2021 ballot was released Monday and Schilling, who pitched for the D-backs from 2000-03, is on it for the ninth time. As long as they get at

PHOENIX -- Could this be the year that former D-backs right-hander Curt Schilling makes it into the National Baseball Hall of Fame?

The 2021 ballot was released Monday and Schilling, who pitched for the D-backs from 2000-03, is on it for the ninth time. As long as they get at least 5 percent of the vote, a player can remain on the ballot for a maximum of 10 years.

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That means Schilling has two chances remaining, including this year. Voting is done by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, and the results are announced in January. A player must get at least 75 percent of the vote to be elected.

Schilling received 38.8 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility in 2013, but his totals began to rise dramatically in recent years.

Last year, Schilling received 278 votes (70 percent), marking the second year in a row that he had the most votes of a person not elected. With no surefire first-time player on the ballot this year, Schilling has never had a better opportunity to win election.

Schilling’s tenure in Arizona began prior to the Trade Deadline in 2000, when the D-backs traded Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla to the Phillies for him.

Schilling was good, not great in 2000, for the D-backs, but he more than made up for that over the rest of his time in Arizona. In 2001-02, he combined to go 45-13 with a 3.10 ERA and a 148 ERA+. Schilling not only racked up the strikeouts with 609, he managed to walk just 72 over that span.

And the bottom line is the D-backs don’t win the World Series in 2001 without Schilling.

He tossed a pair of complete games against the Cardinals in the National League Division Series, allowing one run over 18 innings. He had another complete game in his lone appearance against the Braves in the NL Championship Series, allowing one run. In three World Series starts against the Yankees, he compiled a 1.69 ERA.

Schilling was named co-MVP of the World Series along with Johnson, who was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2015.

“No doubt,” said Luis Gonzalez, Schilling’s teammate in both Houston and Arizona. “This guy was one of the most dominant pitchers in our era. When you talk about Hall of Famers, I look at how he was in his era. Who were the guys in that era that you absolutely didn’t want to face, and he was certainly one of those guys.”

Schilling missed time in 2003 due to an appendectomy, and he was dealt after that season to the Red Sox, where he would go on to further establish his Hall of Fame credentials.

Schilling’s regular-season accomplishments were impressive (216-146, 3.46 ERA, 3,116 strikeouts), but it was his utter brilliance in the postseason that truly sets him apart.

In the pressurized environment of the playoffs, Schilling made 19 starts, going 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP.

“He turned it up to another level in the postseason,” said Gonzalez, who drove in the game-winning run in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. “He did it with the Diamondbacks, he did it with Boston and he did it in Philly, too. He’s one of the best postseason pitchers in baseball history and that’s what we all play for -- to get to a World Series. We all know Curt always shined his brightest when he was on the big stage.”

Schilling was also known for taking the ball when he was hurt and finding a way to win despite the circumstances.

The most well-known instance came in the 2004 postseason while with the Red Sox. Schilling started Game 6 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium with a loose tendon in his right ankle that had to be surgically put back into place before the start.

Blood soaked through his sock, but Schilling managed to hold the Yankees to one run over seven innings. The Reds Sox won that game and then went on to win Game 7, as well as the World Series for the first time since 1918.

Schilling’s preparation for his starts was second to none. In the era before advanced metrics were prevalent, Schilling would pore over video of opposing hitters, keeping detailed notes in a large spiral notebook.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.