Curt Schilling is going to take his ball, and his social media accounts, and go home.
After falling 16 votes shy of joining baseball’s Hall of Fame — as no players were elected for the first time since 2013 — the pitcher with the stellar numbers and lengthy list of controversial comments said he wants off the Baseball Writers’ Association of American ballot in his final year of eligibility.
Instead, Schilling will wait until he is considered by a group of former players, executives and writers who make up the Hall’s era committees that vote on players not on the writers’ ballots.
Calling the BBWAA voters “morally bankrupt frauds” who lie about his life, Schilling shared his reaction in a 1,200-word letter to the Hall he shared on Facebook:
“I am requesting to be removed from the ballot. I’ll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player. I don’t think I’m a Hall of Famer as I’ve often stated, but if former players think I am then I’ll accept that with honor.”
The request is unusual, if not unprecedented. Hall officials said they would consider it at their next meeting.
Schilling came closest, receiving 285 votes for 71.1 percent of the total, with 301 needed to reach the 75 percent standard for election. There were 401 ballots cast, including a record 14 blanks.
Barry Bonds and Rogers Clemens, who stellar careers were marred by performance-enhancing drug use, were the next closest, getting 61 percent each as they also were in their ninth, and penultimate, year on the ballot. None of the three showed much progress from last year’s voting.
Third baseman Scott Rolen was one of several players making double-digit gains, improving 17.6 percent to 52.9. Outfielder Gary Sheffield, the Tampa native, was another, gaining 10.1 percent to 40.6.
After electing 22 players over the previous seven years — and with none of the 11 first-year candidates worthy of election — writers, who can vote for up to 10 players annually, had more room on their ballots to work with in considering other candidates. Pitcher Mark Buehrle and outfielder Torii Hunter got the most support of the first-year eligibles.
Schilling, who was 216-146, 3.46 in the regular season and 11-2, 2.23 in the postseason during a 20-year career, presented an interesting case. While he was worthy of consideration based on his performance on the mound, he lost some support with a history of comments considered inflammatory, discriminatory and hateful on many levels.
“Regarding Schilling, whose credentials are unquestioned, I would have thought absent any other controversy he would have been in long ago,” veteran baseball broadcaster Bob Costas said on MLB Network. “(Broadcaster) Al (Michaels) talked his way into the Hall of Fame, in effect. Curt Schilling may have talked, and tweeted, his way out of the Hall of Fame.”
Schilling made clear in his 1,200-word letter that he no longer wants to be part of the BBWAA voting process and is “mentally done.”
“In my heart I am at peace,” he wrote “Nothing, zero, none of the claims being made by any of the writers hold merit. … The media has created a Curt Schilling that does not and has never existed. It’s one of the things that has allowed me to sleep at night.”
Next year’s election will be significant, as Schilling (if he’s on the ballot), Bonds and Clemens will be in their final year of eligibility, when some players historically receive a bump as writers reconsider their candidacy. Plus, two other prominent players also tied to PED use will be eligible for the first time, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez.
Though no players were elected this year by the writers and the era committee did not meet, there still will be an induction ceremony in July, as the class elected last year, led by Derek Jeter, had its enshrinement postponed due to the pandemic.
Here are the results of this year’s voting:
Schilling 285 (71.1 percent), Bonds 248 (61.8), Clemens 247 (61.6), Rolen 212 (52.9), Omar Vizquel 197 (49.1), Billy Wagner 186 (46.4), Todd Helton 180 (44.9), Sheffield 163 (40.6), Andruw Jones 136 (33.9), Jeff Kent 130 (32.4), Manny Ramírez 113 (28.2), Sammy Sosa 68 (17.0), Andy Pettitte 55 (13.7), Buehrle 44 (11.0), Hunter 38 (9.5), Bobby Abreu 35 (8.7), Tim Hudson 21 (5.2), Aramis Ramírez 4 (1.0), LaTroy Hawkins 2 (0.5), Barry Zito 1 (0.2), A.J. Burnett 0, Michael Cuddyer 0, Dan Haren 0, Nick Swisher 0, Shane Victorino 0