Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday, after falling short of election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the former Red Sox star said he believes some writers won’t ever vote for him because of his political leanings. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Schilling received 39.2 percent of the vote, well short of the 75 percent needed for election. Four players were elected: Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio and former Sox star Pedro Martinez, whose surprisingly low 91.1 percent result was more evidence to Schilling that something is wrong.
“The process isn’t flawed; stupid people do stupid things,” Schilling said. “I’ve seen so many in the past, voters making their vote into a news article, protesting this or protesting that, except just voting the player on his playing merits. And that’s normal, I guess, because we’re human, we all have bias, we all have prejudice. When Pedro gets 91 percent, that tells you something’s wrong.”
A case could me made that Schilling’s statistics are comparable to those of Smoltz, yet the Braves legend received 240 more votes. Schilling said Smoltz deserves enshrinement, but he noted that Smoltz’s political views are more consistent with many media members.
“I think he got in because of [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine. I think the fact that they won 14 straight pennants. I think his ‘Swiss army knife versatility,’ which somebody said yesterday, I think he got a lot of accolades for that, I think he got a lot of recognition for that. He’s a Hall of Famer,” Schilling said. “And I think the other big thing is that I think he’s a Democrat and so I know that, as a Republican, that there’s some people that really don’t like that.”
A proud conservative, Schilling has been outspoken in his support for Republican candidates. He also received heavy criticism when he moved his video game company from Massachusetts to Rhode Island to take advantage of government assistance and then the company went bankrupt.
Schilling said there’s no question that he would have received more votes had he been more mainstream in his beliefs and less outspoken and controversial.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Listen, when human beings do something, anything, there’s bias and prejudice. Listen, 9 percent of the voters did not vote for Pedro. There’s something wrong with the process and some of the people in the process when that happens. I don’t think that it kept me [out] or anything like that, but I do know that there are guys who probably won’t ever vote for me because of the things that I said or did. That’s the way it works.”
Roger Clemens has said he no longer pays attention to the Hall of Fame voting. Schilling didn’t take it that far, but he insisted it’s not something he obsesses about.
“I don’t know about it mattering,” Schilling said. “The funny thing was people were asking me yesterday about this, and about what are you thinking about, and I said, ‘Listen, it’s already done, it was done a month ago.’ We just found out yesterday, everybody’s already done their thing. I can’t spend my time being concerned about people’s opinions of me that I’ll never meet. I don’t want to diminish or degrade the accomplishment because the Hall of Fame, the greatest players in the world are there, but there are Hall of Fame players that aren’t there that if I don’t get in, I’ll be OK. Dale Murphy and Fred McGriff, I know there are guys, Jeff Bagwell, there are guys that aren’t in that are Hall of Famers, so I’ll be all right.”
Added Schilling: “I don’t think about it like that. I am now done thinking about it until people ask me about it next year. I was around the game so long and I met so many people and I heard so many people talk about the process that a long time ago I became very cool with the fact that it may never happen because human beings are doing the process, they’re involved in the process. And when that happens you have tremendous bias and prejudice in some cases. And that, to me, takes away some of what the Hall of Fame should be. It should be for the greatest players, not the people that were liked the best by some people in the media.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.
On Martinez’s dominance: “I do believe that his run was the greatest run in the history of the game. … [Sandy] Koufax did it in an era when there was some other guys that were really good that did it. But no one touched Pedro. What he did when he did it was never done, never will be done again.”
On if he would choose Johnson or Martinez to pitch in one big game: “I was asked that last night, I’m not sure, I answered me, because I don’t know which one I would take. At his peak, Pedro dominated the game like nobody I’ve ever seen. What he did in that short run, ’99, 2000, in that era, I don’t think anyone’s come close to doing something like that no matter what the era was.”
On Johnson’s personality: “He was miserable. I mean, he was just a miserable, miserable guy. Part of that had to do with the fact that the one thing that you recognized him for, that everybody recognized him for, he didn’t find it funny — the fact that he was that tall. If you think about it, and we talked about it when I first started playing with him, he probably is — or was, when he played — one of the four or five most recognizable people in the world. And for someone that’s insecure or uncomfortable with that, that’s not a great thing.”
On the common thread between the pitchers who were elected this year: “They’re power arms. I said last night, we were talking about it last night, all three of those guys were traded young, and it’s amazing to me when you see guys, the power arms that get traded. I just think it’s stupid. I think the common thread is probably the competitive thing, you’ve got three guys who wanted to be the best in the world. Maybe they’ll give you a different answer, but I think all of it means the same thing. I think these three guys were guys that put it together. If you look at RJ at the beginning of his career, he wasn’t what he was. Hhe was a mess, he was kind of a Nuke LaLoosh and then he figures it out and becomes, for my money, one of the three or four best pitchers of all time.”
On Mike Piazza, who received 69.9 percent of the votes, and how he compares to other players who have been rumored to be involved with PEDs: “I think Piazza’s move up the ladder was an indicator. I think guys are starting to soften up a little bit. One of the differences, though, for me is that Mike Piazza was never named on anything. Everybody that didn’t vote for Mike didn’t vote for him because they think he might have cheated. And I think it’s the same thing that’s killed Bagwell, which is unfortunate, because I think Jeff is a Hall of Fame player. But I don’t think there’s ever going to be enough writers OK with it that [Roger] Clemens and [Barry] Bonds will get in.”