Curt Schilling is one of the best pitchers of his era, a part of many gifted teams, and was a very gifted player in his prime. If after his retirement, he just enjoyed time relaxing and with his family, then he would definitely be a Hall of Famer. Sadly, that is not how this story ends.
Curt Schilling made his major league debut in 1988 with the Baltimore Orioles, going 7 innings against the Red Sox while giving up 2 earned runs. In ’88 and ’89, Schilling floated between the minor leagues and the majors, but spent most of his time in the bullpen. After a rough start, he had a 2.54 ERA in 46 innings. During the off-season, Schilling was traded to Houston for Glenn Davis, where he was once again in the bullpen. This time he posted a 3.81 ERA in 75.2 IP. Once again, he was traded, this time to Philadelphia for Jason Grimsley.
In Philadelphia, Schilling found a home. He posted a 3.46 ERA in 3261 IP from 1992-2000 in Philly. He also had 2 All-Star appearances and a top 5 Cy Young finish in 1997 with a 2.97 ERA. During the 2000 season, the Phillies were out of contention and traded him to the contending Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks would miss the postseason in 2000 but, would win it all in 2001. Schilling was a crucial part of the 2001 Diamondbacks, posting a 2.98 ERA in a whopping 256.2 regular season innings, something we do not see all that often in 2018. He was named the World Series MVP, allowing 4 runs in 21 innings against the Bronx Bombers. From this, he got his first World Series ring. In 2004 with the Red Sox, he once again led his team to victory in the postseason with a 3.26 ERA and 7.7 bWAR. He ended his career in Boston, helping the Red Sox win 96 games in his age 40 season.
The story should end here, right? An illustrious career ends and over 5 years later, he is sent to Cooperstown. There is more to this story than was told. There is always more to a baseball player than just what is shown on the field. Let’s go back to 2004, a great season for Schilling and the Red Sox. This was the first occasion of political activism by Schilling, when he campaigned for George W. Bush while the Red Sox ownership campaigned for Democratic Senator John Kerry. Schilling had said he was going to run against Senator Kerry in 2008 for his Senate seat, then again mentioned he was going to run to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat. He also pondered the idea of running against Elizabeth Warren in this upcoming election. Each time, he ended up endorsing a Republican candidate but never actually ended up running.
Just because Curt never ran for office does not mean he doesn’t offer up his right-wing opinions and conspiracies in other ways. His Twitter is always full of political content, attacking the “liberals” while vehemently defending President Trump. He has been involved in various right-wing programming, like his Breitbart radio show that ended earlier in the year. All of these have caused some trouble for Schilling, who was fired from ESPN in 2016 after sharing an offensive post regarding the North Carolina law that barred transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender they identify as. Before that, he was suspended for comparing radical Islam to Nazi Germany, which upset ESPN.
Of course, Schilling has every single right to say those things, and no one should stop him from expressing his opinions. ESPN expressed their right to fire him; he moved on and is living his life. Personally, I have a problem with what he says, but that is not what this article is about. This is about Curt Schilling’s Hall of Fame Status.
Baseball has many troubled characters in it, some of which are in the Hall of Fame. The biggest difference between their Hall of Fame careers and Schilling’s is the decades or even centuries in between them. There may be dozens of poor characters enshrined in the Hall of Fame, but most, if not all of them, are dead right now.
If baseball is truly becoming a more inclusive sport, then Curt Schilling should not be enshrined as one of the best in history. All 30 teams now have some sort of “pride night”, and after Schilling’s comments on the LGBTQ+ community, it is hypocritical for MLB to support their rights and have Schilling enshrined in the most exclusive place in the sport. Giving him the elevated platform to spread those sorts of messages is going to taint the progress towards inclusivity that the league has made.
I 100% understand supporting his case; Curt Schilling was a gifted pitcher. But, he is not worth sacrificing the progress we have made as a sport to make it more inclusive. He is going to be the first and hopefully last victim of character. It is not because he has those beliefs; it is because he expresses them in a way that isolates and could even scare minority groups. So, Curt Schilling, I wish you nothing but the best, but stay out of Cooperstown for the sake of baseball.
Featured Photo: Wikimedia Commons