Red Sox World Series hero Curt Schilling deserves Cooperstown
We’re three weeks away from the announcement of the MLB Hall of Fame class of 2021 on January 26th. On the ballot this year are players who have staked their claims to history including Red Sox legend Curt Schilling. This is the righty’s ninth year of eligibility and his second to last on the ballot if he doesn’t get the call for Cooperstown.
Whenever HOF season rolls around the conversation is dominated by who actually deserves to be immortalized. Many will not get to hold their rightful place in the Hall due to their links with PED usage or simply alleged usage. Guys like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Manny Ramirez will eventually fall off the ballot never hitting the necessary 75% vote. Now, that could all change once the old guard begins getting phased out by a younger generation, but it’ll be too late for many.
For Schilling, though, this is probably his best chance at making it into the Hall of Fame. Not only is he the closest to the threshold, and has been for a few years without crossing the finish line, but the rest of the class is relatively weak. The right-hander has seen nearly double-digit increases in his percentages over the last few seasons and is knocking on the door with his 2020 final of 70%.
I know that many of you are probably wondering how I could be praising Schilling despite his off the field antics and overall garbage behavior. I can’t and will never try to defend his massive character flaws as they go against everything I believe in, but this isn’t a conversation over his views of the world.
That isn’t a clause for voting someone into the HOF and likely won’t keep him out, we have to look at his resume on the mound and only that. I do believe that his comments that have been downright hateful against numerous protected groups, as well as the media, have kept him from Cooperstown until now.
But with barely missing it in 2020, this year feels like the BBWAA will give him the nod. With that said, let’s look at the case for Schilling to be inducted by breaking down his career and checking the numbers.
Schilling is revered by Red Sox Nation for what he did in 2004 and subsequently 2007, but interestingly enough, he was drafted by Boston in 1986 through the amateur draft. He would eventually make his way through a few teams before starting his legacy in Philadelphia.
He would get his first of the Fall Classic with the Phillies in 1993, coming up in a losing effort against the Blue Jays. That postseason saw him add his first October piece of hardware to his collection though as he was named NLCS MVP.
Fast-forward to 2001 and he’s now calling Arizona home and has become a two-headed dragon with Randy Johnson. Schilling would win his first of three World Series against a soon to be familiar foe in the New York Yankees. A 1-0 record would complement his 1.69 ERA against New York while tossing 21.1 innings.
Despite the Yankees being a monster at this time and the heavy narrative of 9/11 at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the Diamondbacks had that intangible that wouldn’t let them lose that fall.
We all know why we’re here though, and thanks to a Thanksgiving meeting in November of 2003, the veteran righty would make his way to Boston. Finally, 2004 is here and Schilling would lead the American League in wins with a 21-6 record which also led the Majors with a .778 Win%. He also tossed 226.2 innings where he had a 1.4 BB/9 and 8.1 K/9, earning him a second-place finish in the CY Young vote.
One of the best seasons he ever had would be capped with the greatest team accomplishment in baseball, raising the Commissioner’s Trophy. His gutsy performance against the Yankees will earn him a spot within Red Sox Nation forever. A torn ligament sheath in his ankle, a bloody sock, and a baffling poor gameplan by NY would inch Boston closer to ending the curse.
He would only need to pitch once in the World Series as the Sox cruised past the Cardinals but in that outing, Schilling would toss six scoreless innings cementing the win. And just like that, the Curse of the Bambino was broken and the Red Sox were once again kings of the baseball world. His mantra of “Why not us,” rang through the clubhouse all season and into the fall. He was right, once you make it to the postseason it’s a fresh season and everyone has a chance.
2007 would see Schilling as less of an ace and more of a foundation for the starting rotation. Younger arms had passed him and he was now the veteran on the mound to lock things down. As Boston would once again enter the postseason that year the righty would be the reliable arm that Terry Francona needed. A 3-0 record that October and a 1.69 ERA in the World Series would earn him his third championship ring, and end his career on a high note.
I’m highlighting his time with the Red Sox despite it only being a sliver in his 20-year career. For his entire time in MLB, he amassed a 216-146 record with a career 3.46 ERA through 3,261 IP. He also averaged a 2.0 BB/9 and 8.2 K/9 over that two-decade stretch. Add in his three World Series rings, 6 All-Star nods, an NLCS MVP, and a WS MVP, and that looks like the recipe for a Hall of Fame candidate. He never won a Cy Young but did finish second three times and fourth on one occasion.
Again, as I discussed above, his views off the field make him a very unlikeable person and have probably contributed to his late entry into the Hall. However, with him just missing the mark last year and not much of an argument against him being inducted this year, I think Schilling finally takes his place in Cooperstown. With three weeks left until the votes are announced, speculation will continue to swirl around his status as his time on the ballot continues to run out. I’ll never agree with Schilling off the field, but I can’t deny that what he did on the field is more than deserving of the honor.