One of the ugliest Hall of Fame voting seasons in recent memory came to an appropriately inglorious end when no candidates were elected to Cooperstown in balloting revealed on Tuesday night.
That means the Hall’s Class of 2020 – Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and the late union chief Marvin Miller – are scheduled to be inducted into Cooperstown on July 25 without any members from the 2021 ballot. The 2020 ceremony was canceled because of COVID-19.
Curt Schilling, the unapologetically polarizing three-time World Series champion, missed by 16 votes of getting the needed 75% in his ninth and next-to-last year on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot. He received 71.1%.
Schilling’s extreme political views and offensive post-playing persona were cited by some voters as the reason they either didn’t vote for him or changed their previous "Yes" votes to "No."
Schilling has one more shot on the BBWAA ballot. But in a lengthy letter to the Hall of Fame Schilling posted on social media after the results were announced, he asked to be taken off the 2022 ballot.
"I will not participate in the final year of voting," he wrote. "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."
Schilling’s request was addressed in a statement from Hall of Fame board president Jane Forbes Clark (via USA Today): "The Board has received Curt Schilling’s request for removal from the 2022 ballot, and will consider the request at our next meeting."
Definite returnees on the 2022 ballot include all-time greats and suspected steroid cheats Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who were also denied for the ninth consecutive year. Bonds was named on 61.8% of the ballots, Clemens on 61.6%.
Last year, Bonds got 60.7 and Clemens got 61%.
This year’s election was rocked by accusations of hateful speech and behavior against Schilling; the seemingly never-ending debate about whether steroid users belong in the Hall; and domestic violence accusations against former shortstop Omar Vizquel, who had been trending up in recent years, but went down from 52.6% in 2020 to 49.1% this time.
Vizquel has denied the allegations by his wife, Blanca, saying they were part of "a smear campaign" in a heated divorce.
It was the first time the BBWAA didn’t elect anyone since 2013. Of them 401 ballots cast, a record 14 were blank.
Of the 10 other returning candidates, nine saw increases, including Scott Rolen (52.9%), Billy Wagner (46.4), Todd Helton (44.9), Gary Sheffield (40.6), Andruw Jones (33.9), Jeff Kent (32.4), Sammy Sosa (17), Andy Pettitte (13.7) and Bobby Abreu (8.7). Manny Ramirez (28.2) matched his 2020 percentage.
Of the 11 first-timers, three received more than the five percent required to stay on the 2022 ballot: Mark Buehrle (11.0), Torii Hunter (9.5) and Tim Hudson (5.2).
Of local note, former Yankee and Met LaTroy Hawkins got two votes. Former Yankees Nick Swisher and A.J. Burnett and former Met Michael Cuddyer didn’t get any votes.
The focus on this year's ballot was Schilling, who had predicted he would come up short in a comedy podcast that was taped on Sunday and released on Tuesday. Schilling promoted the "Lone Shark Podcast" on his Twitter feed about less than three hours before the voting was announced.
In the podcast, recorded with host Jim Sharky and comedian Nick DiPaolo, Schilling defended himself against the post-playing career "character" issues that have contributed to keep him out of the Hall. He claimed the writers are excluding him not because of his behavior, but because of his staunch support of former President Donald Trump.
"Here’s the thing: The people who are writing the things and saying the things about me that knew me and met me know that they’re lying," Schilling said. "That’s the (expletive) thing. They hate Trump so (expletive) much that it doesn’t matter that they’re going to crush my character and they’re going to ruin my character by saying (expletive) they know not to be true. That gets back to, I’ve been at peace with this for years."
Schilling also, during the podcast, called baseball writers "horrible people" and said of one journalist who had recently written a negative story about him: "I want to (expletive) beat him senseless;" during a conspiracy-theory soaked discussion of politics, said of U.S. Representative Eric Swallwell (D-California), "I want to punch him in the throat;" and made a Holocaust-related joke when DiPaolo mentioned that he used to live four miles from Hillary Clinton’s house in New York.
"You lived down the street from (Hillary Clinton)," Schilling said. "That’s like having an apartment down the street from Auschwitz. I mean, my God, Hillary Clinton."
Results of the 2021 BBWAA vote (75% needed for induction):
Player Votes Percentage
Curt Schilling 285 71.1
Barry Bonds 248 61.8
Roger Clemens 247 61.6
Scott Rolen 212 52.9
Omar Vizquel 197 49.1
Billy Wagner 186 46.4
Todd Helton 180 44.9
Gary Sheffield 163 40.6
Andruw Jones 136 33.9
Jeff Kent 130 32.4
Manny Ramirez 113 28.2
Sammy Sosa 68 17.0
Andy Pettitte 55 13.7
Mark Buehrle 44 11.0
Torii Hunter 38 9.5
Bobby Abreu 35 8.7
Tim Hudson 21 5.2
Aramis Ramírez 4 1.0
LaTroy Hawkins 2 0.5
Barry Zito 1 0.2
A.J. Burnett, Michael Cuddyer, Dan Haren, Nick Swisher and Shane Victorino all received zero votes.