Schilling gains more ground in Hall of Fame vote

January 22nd, 2020

BOSTON -- , the ultimate big-game pitcher, again fell short in his quest to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

However, the former righty, who is on the BBWAA ballot for two more years, is clearly trending in the right direction. In fact, with no obvious first-ballot candidate on the 2021 ballot, Schilling should have his strongest shot yet to receive the ultimate honor for a baseball player.

Yankees icon Derek Jeter (396 votes, 99.7 percent) and Larry Walker (304 votes, 76.6 percent) were the only players elected on Tuesday.

For the second straight year, Schilling received the most votes of any candidate who didn’t make it. This time, Schilling received 278 votes, which placed him on 70 percent of the ballots. He was 20 votes short of the 75 percent threshold required to get into the Hall of Fame.

Last year, Schilling received 259 votes for 60.9 percent.

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) and was on the winning side three times, twice with Boston.

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

Schilling was also known for taking the ball when he was hurt and finding a way to dominate anyway. In the historic 2004 postseason 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 a day before the start.

With blood soaking through his sock, and the Red Sox facing a 3-2 deficit in the series, Schilling held the Yankees to a run over seven innings. The next day, the Sox won Game 7, becoming the first -- and still only -- team in postseason history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

Schilling was at it again with his bloody sock in Game 2 of the World Series against the Cardinals, holding a potent-hitting Cardinals squad to no earned runs over six innings and putting Boston up, 2-0, en route to a sweep.

Three years later, as his career was winding down, Schilling pitched with a greatly diminished fastball (as in the mid 80s) and went 3-0 in four postseason starts to help the Red Sox win it all again.

Perhaps Schilling was never better than in 2001, when he teamed with Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and dethroned the Yankees -- who had won the World Series the previous three seasons -- in a true Fall Classic. Johnson and Schilling were co-MVPs of that World Series.

In six starts for Arizona in that ’01 postseason, Schilling was marvelous, going 4-0 with a 1.12 ERA that included three complete games.

Though Schilling never raised the World Series trophy for the Phillies, he did everything he could to lift the club’s 1993 NL pennant-winner to glory. With the Phillies down, 3-1, in the World Series, Schilling fired a five-hit shutout in Toronto against a Blue Jays team that had Hall of Famers Paul Molitor, Rickey Henderson and Roberto Alomar in the lineup.

There were things other than the October heroics that set Schilling apart.

One is that he had pinpoint control. The six-time All-Star walked just two batters per nine innings in his 20-year career. He led the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio five times between 2001-06.

Another separator for Schilling was his durability. He fired 83 complete games in his career, including a career-high 15 in 1998, and he topped 250 innings in four seasons.

He was also a master of the strikeout. Schilling had three seasons of at least 300 strikeouts (1997, ’98 and 2002). He is one of just 18 pitchers to have 3,000 career strikeouts.

While complete games have become almost a lost art in today’s game, Schilling felt as if he wasn’t doing his job if he had to hand the ball to the bullpen.

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. Schilling also had hand-written binders full of reports on every hitter he faced.

“I watched video of every pitch I threw like 300 times,” Schilling wrote recently in a text to

For someone like Schilling, who has spent a lifetime absorbing and being awed by baseball history, the honor of being a Hall of Famer will surely be overwhelming if it eventually happens.