Several former Boston Red Sox stars were on the first-ever Contemporary Era Committee’s ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and they’ll have to hope for another chance when the panel reconvenes in three years.
Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling were among the eight candidates considered this year, but on Sunday, the committee voted unanimously to elect Fred McGriff, and only Fred McGriff.
Hall of Fame players, MLB executives, and media members/historians made up the 16-person committee. Each committee member received three votes, and as with BBWAA voting requirements, 75% was the minimum threshold. Clemens, who maintains that performance-enhancing substances were never part of his storied career, received less than four votes; Schilling received seven.
Former Red Sox pitchers Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling denied entry into Hall of Fame by Contemporary Era Committee
Clemens pitched for the Red Sox for the first 13 seasons of his 24-year career, from 1984-96. During his time in Boston, he won three Cy Young awards and finished in the top six in voting three other times. He was also the 1986 American League MVP and a five-time All-Star before pitching for the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Astros.
What should have been an undisputed Hall of Fame career was tainted with allegations of steroid use and adultery and inappropriate relations with an underage girl. Clemens was named 82 times in the infamous Mitchell Report, with his personal strength coach Brian McNamee stating he personally injected Clemens. Former Yankees pitcher Jason Grimley outed Clemens and Andy Pettitte as two teammates whom he knew to be using, and José Canseco alleged that Clemens recommended he use steroids.
In 2008, Clemens swore under oath in front of a Congressional committee that he did not take steroids. Due to several inconsistencies between Clemens’ testimony and Pettitte’s, the committee did not believe the former was telling the truth. In 2010, he was indicted on several charges, including obstruction of Congress, making false statements, and perjury. In 2012, he was found not guilty.
The same year Clemens faced the Congressional committee, reports surfaced that he’d been having a relationship with musician Mindy McCready and that it had begun when she was only 15 years old. McCready went on the record saying that they’d been having an affair for over a decade, only parting ways when the pitcher refused to level his wife. However, McCready’s statements protected Clemens from statutory rape accusations, as she claimed they did not have sex until she was 21 years old. McCready’s mental health and substance abuse issues also provided Clemens some benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion. She died by suicide in 2013.
Schilling’s career wasn’t tainted by steroid allegations, but for anyone who values humanity, his misconduct is far worse. An avid collector of Nazi artifacts, Schilling has been persona non grata in the baseball world for years due to Islamaphobic and Transphobic comments and social media activity. He’s long defended and supported former President Trump through various inappropriate comments, criminal activity, and the attack on the Capitol in 2021. Unsurprisingly, Trump thinks Schilling should be in the Hall of Fame.
Whether or not you agree with the Hall having a character clause doesn’t change the fact that it does, in fact, exist. Athletes are only considered above us because we elevate them, and the bar is already far too low for the people we choose to put on these pedestals. Elevating Schilling, whose resumé of bigotry is longer than a CVS receipt, would be an indictment on us as a supposedly-evolved society.
The Hall is full of questionable, controversial, unseemly figures, but that is also not a valid excuse to induct another one. Cap Anson refused to play on the same field as Black players, and he is in the Hall of Fame. I’d like to think society has learned better and improved since his induction in 1939.
Schilling isn’t on the outside looking in because of cancel culture, holier-than-thou journalists, executives, or even his own peers who sat on the committee. He alone is responsible for his downfall, and he seems aware of that face. In January 2021, he asked to be removed from the ballot in January 2021, weeks after he showed support for the January 6 insurrection in Washington DC:
"“I am requesting to be removed from the ballot. I’ll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player. 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.”"
The people ‘whose opinions actually matter’ to Schilling have spoken.