In the 2021 round of balloting, Schilling came just 16 votes short of the 75 percent threshold needed for election via the BBWAA ballot.
His failure to earn election in what was his ninth and penultimate year on the ballot prompted Schilling to request that his name not appear on future ballots.
On social media, Schilling at the time wrote in part: “I will not participate in the final year of voting. 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.”
Certain notable players who do not earn election via the BBWAA ballot eventually appear on the ballot of the relevant Era Committee, formerly known as the Veterans Committee, which is in part populated by former players.
Schilling, now 54, has a strong case for election on the statistical merits. Over his 20-year MLB career, he won 216 games; struck out 3,116 batters; and compiled a WAR of 80.5. Throw in his exceptionally strong postseason body of work, and he’s an obvious Hall of Famer in a vacuum.
However, Schilling in his retirement has become a political firebrand who has often indulged in controversial and incendiary rhetoric, including social media posts about Nazis, Islamophobia, and lynching journalists, as well as making uncomfortable comments about children. Schilling was also fired from his job as an analyst with ESPN after sharing an anti-transgender meme.
The fact that the BBWAA ballot instructions mandate consideration of a candidate’s “character” long ago opened the process up to off-the-field considerations.
Schilling’s defenders, however, would likely note that standard has been inconsistently applied over the years — the Hall of Fame already includes a number of criminals and racists.
Schilling himself has posited that voters have in essence punished him for his political views.
Despite Schilling’s wishes, 2022 will occasion another referendum on his Hall of Fame candidacy and, very likely, another round of controversy.
- This piece first appeared on CBSSports.com.