Curt Schilling, who burnished his reputation as one of the best big-game pitchers in history during his four years with the Red Sox, fell 16 votes shy of reaching the Hall of Fame in the results released on Tuesday night.
For the first time since 2013, no candidate received enough votes for entry on the ballots from the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Schilling received 285 votes, the most of any of the 25 candidates on the ballot. That gave him 71.1 percent of the votes; the threshold for getting inducted is 75 percent. He received 70.0 percent of the vote in 2020.
Though Schilling received personal highs in votes and percentage in his ninth year on the ballot, he doesn’t have any interest in seeing if he can cross the threshold in what would be his final year on the BBWAA ballot next year.
As part of a lengthy letter Schilling wrote to the Hall of Fame on Monday, he respectfully asked to be removed from the 2022 ballot.
“As you know, the Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame sets the rules and procedures for the BBWAA balloting process. The Board has received Curt Schilling's request for removal from the 2022 ballot, and will consider the request at our next meeting,” said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board for the Hall of Fame, in a statement.
Jack O'Connell, secretary-treasurer of the BBWAA, issued the following statement on Wednesday morning:
"It is the position of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America that Mr. Schilling’s request to remove himself from the ballot is a violation of the rules set forth by the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s board of directors, who have commissioned the BBWAA to conduct the annual elections, specifically the following:
“'The duty of the Screening Committee shall be to prepare a ballot listing in alphabetical order eligible candidates who (1) received a vote on a minimum of five percent (5%) of the ballots cast in the preceding election or (2) are eligible for the first time and are nominated by any two of the six members of the BBWAA Screening Committee.'
"Mr. Schilling has fulfilled both of those requirements and should remain on the ballot for consideration by the voting body for what would be his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 2022.
"The Hall of Fame assigned the BBWAA to be the electorate in 1936. This association has abided by the rules for 85 years and shall continue to do so. The BBWAA urges the board to reject Mr. Schilling’s request."
Roger Clemens, another former Red Sox great, finished third in the balloting with 247 votes, good for 61.6 percent, a slight increase over the 61.0 percent he earned last year.
The Rocket, who won the first three of his seven Cy Young Awards with the Red Sox, as well as 192 of his 354 career victories, was also on the ballot for the ninth time.
Clemens would be a slam-dunk candidate if not for allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. He has steadfastly denied that he used steroids, and he didn’t fail any tests during his 24-year career.
The same can’t be said of former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, who failed PED tests in 2008 and ’11 and continues to fall well short of election for that reason. Ramirez, in his fifth year on the ballot, got 28.2 percent of the votes, matching his total from 2020.
The quirky right-handed-hitting machine had a glittering slash line of .312/.411/.585 with 555 homers in his career and was in the heart of Boston’s batting order from 2001-08.
Along with Schilling, Ramirez was a guiding force in helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 and again in ’07.
Schilling’s HOF candidacy comes with additional complications related to his abrasive approach in expressing his political views, often to the point of controversy. Most recently, he supported the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.
At times, Schilling’s comments have gone from political to objectionable, particularly with the sharing of offensive memes. His inappropriate conduct on social media even cost him his job as an ESPN analyst in 2016.
Perhaps the most clutch starting pitcher of his era, Schilling participated in the World Series four times for three franchises (Phillies, D-backs and Red Sox). He was co-MVP of the 2001 World Series along with Randy Johnson when Arizona upended the Yankees in a seven-game classic.
While Schilling’s regular-season accomplishments were impressive enough (216-146, 3.46 ERA, 3,116 strikeouts), it was his utter brilliance in the postseason that truly sets him apart. In that ultra-pressurized environment, Schilling made 19 starts, going 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP.
Schilling made five starts in his career in which a loss would have meant elimination for his team. His team went 5-0 in those games.
In an age when technology and information hadn’t taken over baseball like it has today, Schilling was a trend-setter. He was one of the first MLB players to bring a computer to work, and it was filled with data that was geared toward helping him beat the opposition. He also had hand-written binders full of reports on every hitter he faced.
Perhaps Schilling will get another chance to get voted into baseball’s most elite club next year. That is, unless the Hall of Fame grants his request to take away that chance.
Either way, the 2022 Hall of Fame election is going to be a big one for the Red Sox, as beloved slugger David Ortiz will be on the ballot for the first time.