Curt Schilling will have to keep waiting.
Schilling fell tantalizingly short of election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his eighth —and third-to-last — year on the ballot. The former Phillies ace and three-time World Series champion with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox received 70% of the vote (75% is required) by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in balloting that was completed on Dec. 31 and announced Tuesday night.
Derek Jeter, the iconic New York Yankees shortstop, was elected in his first year on the ballot and came within one vote of being only the second player to ever be elected unanimously, following longtime teammate Mariano Rivera last year. Larry Walker, who hit 383 career home runs in a 17-year career with Montreal, Colorado, and St. Louis, received 76.6% of the vote in his 10th and final year of eligibility.
For the second year in a row, Schilling got the most votes among candidates who weren’t elected. He appeared on 278 of the 397 ballots, 20 fewer than he needed for election. But he continued to climb in the polls, going from 45% in 2017 and 51.2% in 2018 to 60.9% last year and now the doorstep of Cooperstown, N.Y.
His time may finally arrive next year.
Schilling’s candidacy has long been polarizing because of a list of offensive social and political comments that he has made or endorsed on social media and elsewhere since his retirement from baseball in 2007. His detractors also point to an on-field resume that includes 216 wins, tied for only 86th on the all-time list, and no Cy Young Awards.
But Schilling was among the best postseason pitchers of his generation, going 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 career starts.
Before Schilling joined forces with Randy Johnson to lead the fledgling Diamondbacks to a World Series title in their fourth season of existence in 2001, and before he achieved immortality in New England by pitching on a sutured ankle that bloodied his sock for the curse-busting 2004 Red Sox, he established a big-game reputation with the 1993 Phillies. His 147-pitch, five-hit shutout of the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 5 of the World Series ranks with the best games ever pitched in franchise history.