Making it to the hall of fame for your respective sport is the highest honor an individual player can achieve. Very few people make it to that point. So, when former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling requested his name be removed from the 2021 MLB Hall of Fame ballot in January, it came as a surprise.
On Thursday, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s board of directors voted unanimously to not grant Schilling’s request and keep him on the ballot. The six-time All-Star has been on the ballot for the past nine seasons, never getting enough votes to be inducted. The 2021 ballot will be his 10th and final shot.
After coming up just 16 votes shy of selection in 2020, Schilling wrote a lengthy letter to the Hall, which he also posted to Facebook back in January.
“I will not participate in the final year of voting. I am requesting to be removed from the ballot,” Schilling wrote. “I’ll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player.”
The Era Committee, formerly known as the Veterans Committee, is a group partly populated by former players that can also vote to induct players into the Hall. Not all denied players appear on the Era Committee’s ballot, but certain notable players do.
“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,” Schilling also wrote.
Of the players who missed out on induction in 2020, Schilling was the closest, receiving 71.1 percent of the vote. Players who reach the 70 percent mark usually get enough support on future ballots to make it to Cooperstown. Schilling’s recognition has been steadily growing, too, going from 45 percent in 2017 to his best mark this past year.
Schilling’s post-playing career has been marked by trouble in the court of public opinion. The pitcher has made controversial comments comparing Muslims to Nazis, lost his job at ESPN after criticizing laws supporting the transgender community, and publicly battled other members of the media on multiple occasions.
Schilling, who is now 54 years old, played 20 years and won three World Series titles and tallied 216 regular season wins. He spent four seasons with the Red Sox, playing a key role in their championships in 2004 and 2007.