No players were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame Tuesday, which means Curt Schilling won’t be darkening the door of Cooperstown next summer.
Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons, and the family of Marvin Miller — all elected one year ago when their induction was delayed by COVID-19 — will have the stage to themselves when baseball celebrates at the Hall in July.
Sorry, Schilling fans. I know he delivered bigly in a couple of World Series for Boston. His 11-2 postseason record and propensity for throwing strikes makes a very good pitcher. But he’s still a borderline Hall candidate. Look him up on Baseball Reference and you’ll see that the ex-players he most closely resembles are Orel Hershiser, Bob Welch, Kevin Brown, and Tim Hudson. None of those guys are in the Hall and none of them travel with Schill’s baggage.
Cooperstown certainly didn’t need a Schilling sideshow. The Hall has taken a beating over the last 10 months. Ten legends have died since April, a full 12.2 percent of all living Hall of Famers. Cooperstown will be a sad place when baseball gathers in July without Henry Aaron, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Joe Morgan, Lou Brock, Al Kaline, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton, and Tommy Lasorda. Here at the Globe we can’t wait to celebrate the late Nick Cafardo, who’ll be honored along with other media greats Al Michaels, Ken Harrelson, and Dick Kaegel.
This is the ninth time that the Baseball Writers Association of America failed to produce an inductee, and the first time since 2013. Fortunately, baseball can honor those who were elected last year.
The regal Jeter figures to carry the weekend, and it’s a blessing that none of the 2020 honorees will be forced to endure the noise and distraction that likely would have accompanied Schilling. I mean, did we really need a news conference Tuesday night in which Schilling would have been asked if he still supported the insurrection at our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6?
The night of that riot — featuring a mob that included folks carrying Confederate flags and nooses, some wearing anti-Semitic T-shirts — Schilling tweeted, “You cowards sat on your hands, did nothing while liberal trash looted rioted and burned for air Jordan’s and big screens. sit back, STFU and watch folks start a confrontation for s--t that matters like rights, democracy and the end of govt corruption. #itshappening.”
A day later, after it was learned that five people, including a Capitol police officer, had died in the riot, Schilling took to Twitter to do it all over again.
Keep in mind that Schilling’s latest missives were submitted after the deadline for this year’s ballot. None of that stuff was used against him this year. Those rants (and who knows what there’ll be this year?) will be part of Schilling’s résumé next winter when he gets his final shot on the writers’ ballot. Moments after the announcement, Schilling requested to be removed from next year’s ballot in a 1,200-word Facebook screed he submitted to the Hall of Fame.
Many fans believe that a ballplayer’s stats should be the only measure of his worthiness for Cooperstown. It would be easy to cast votes if that were true. But writers are instructed to consider integrity, sportsmanship, and character, which is why PED guys Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, and Gary Sheffield weren’t elected again on Tuesday. Schilling, a strong but borderline candidate based on his baseball résumé, did not make the normal gain you’d expect from a player who got 70 percent of votes last year (Schilling got 71.1 percent of the vote Tuesday, 16 votes shy of the 75 percent required for induction). It was a somewhat stunning rebuke on a relatively weak ballot. Only one player in history has ever reached the 70 percent plateau and not crossed the 75 percent barrier (Jim Bunning, who was later enshrined by the Veterans Committee).
This is not about “politics.” Mariano Rivera is a big Trump guy and was elected unanimously in 2019. George Brett loves Trump, and we all love George Brett. Schilling’s public platforms are on another level. He’s the guy who posted a tweet equating Muslim extremists with Nazis, used social media to denigrate the LGBTQ community, and commented in a tweet that a T-shirt recommending lynching journalists was “awesome." He also called Adam Jones a liar when Jones said he was subjected to racial epithets at Fenway — a claim validated by the Red Sox organization and Red Sox players. Need we get into Schill’s Nazi memorabilia collection or the $75 million he took from Rhode Island for his failed gaming company?
Falling short of making the Hall of Fame does not erase a player’s numbers. But Cooperstown is an honor. Do you want to honor this? Not me, thanks.
If you think it’s just the crusty old sportswriters keeping Schilling out, consider this: Ryan Spaeder, an author/statistician, in Tuesday’s New York Times revealed that Schilling received less than 60 percent of votes from 76 former major league players polled. Character? Or baseball?
Ten years ago in Cooperstown, Tom Seaver told longtime New York Daily News baseball scribe Bill Madden, “Keep sending us class acts."
Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons, and the family of the late Marvin Miller are on their way. Class acts, one and all.