Former Phillies star Curt Schilling is on the Hall of Fame ballot one last time
Seven former Philadelphia Phillies are on the Hall of Fame ballot this year, and the case can be made for several of them to be enshrined in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
But Curt Schilling is not one of them.
The former MLB pitcher enjoyed a very successful 20-season career – including nine years with the Phillies – before retiring in 2007. Since then, he’s blown all his MLB earnings on a bankrupted video game company, and become an extremely controversial and problematic figure online and in the media.
"“Given how much I talk, it’s amazing that I haven’t ruined myself.”Schilling via Esquire"
Here’s a quick recap of what Schilling has been up to since retiring from baseball:
- He’s been collecting “World War II memorabilia,” which is really just a lot of Nazi uniforms and other swastika-emblazoned pieces. He has a Facebook album from 2015 with hundreds of photos of his collection, which is still up on his page today.
- ESPN removed him from the Little League World Series broadcast after he compared Muslims to Nazis on Twitter.
- He was then fired from ESPN after he reposted a transphobic meme on Facebook about bathroom rights and doubled down with an extremely insensitive comment of his own
- In 2016, he endorsed lynching journalists
- He said Hillary Clinton “should be buried under a jail somewhere”
- He began hosting a radio show for alt-right media company Breitbart on which he downplayed racism
- He supported the January 6th insurrection last winter, prompting several Hall of Fame voters to request to remove him from their ballots
There are many who are willing to overlook all of that because Schilling was a great pitcher, and argue that a player’s Hall of Fame chances should be based on their career alone. The only problem with that is that the Hall disagrees; they have a Character Clause:
"“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”"
This is Schilling’s final year on the ballot. He actually requested to be removed from this year’s ballot after last year, when he garnered 71.1% of the vote, only a 1.1% increase from the year before. He called the BBWAA voters “a group of morally bankrupt frauds.” claims he doesn’t care about getting into the Hall, which feels like a snubbed teenager saying “I didn’t want to come to the party anyway,” about a party to which they were not invited.
"“If I have to shut up to get in the Hall of Fame, then I don’t want in.”Schilling via Esquire"
Speaking of not being invited to things, the Boston Red Sox celebrated the 2004 World Series team at Game 2 of the 2018 World Series and did not invite him.
The world has changed a lot in the decade that Schilling has been on the ballot, and that’s a good thing. Athletes no longer get a free pass (or as much of a free pass, at least) for being terrible people off the field just because they’re great athletes. And that’s why the argument that the Hall is already filled with problematic people doesn’t hold water; it implies that society has learned nothing from our mistakes, and wishes to remain rooted in a past of racism, insensitivity, and exclusivism.
Sports are supposed to be for everyone. But Schilling has spent years making many groups feel like outsiders, the enemy, like they were “Other,” and because this country is all about freedoms, he was allowed to do so. But personal choices have consequences. In this case, it’s that Schilling should not be rewarded with enshrinement in the place reserved for baseball’s greatest.