Former pitcher Curt Schilling doing a radio interview in early 2012. Schilling is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Curt Schilling: Borderline Hall of Fame Case

Bloody sock aside, Curt Schilling might have trouble lasting beyond his first year of eligibility on the Hall of Fame ballot. There is such a glut of strong candidates he might not be able to muster the needed support in the top 10 on enough voters’ ballots.

If Schilling was coming onto the ballot for the first time in a year when there were no superluminaries his record would stand out more and he would gain due consideration. He wouldn’t make it to the Hall on his first vote, but he would carry over, have his record studied for a while, and might eventually be voted in.

Instead, this year with newcomers Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza having better overall statistical records, plus holdovers such as Jack Morris and Jeff Bagwell, Schilling might have difficulty surviving for another shot. He definitely deserves that.

The right-hander spent parts of 20 seasons in the majors between 1988 and 2007. His lifetime pitching record was 216-146, which is a winning percentage of just under 60 percent at .597. Can’t complain about that really. Schilling won 20 games three times, twice with the Arizona Diamondbacks and once with the Boston Red Sox. He ranks tied for 82nd all-time in wins. Schilling was a six-time All-Star.

Schilling struck out 3,116 batters and three times struck out more than 300 hitters in a season. Only 16 pitchers in history have fanned 3,000 men and Schilling ranks 15th on that list. Twice he led the National League in Ks while he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies. Three times Schilling led a league in games started, twice in innings pitched, three times in complete games and he compiled a career 3.46 earned run average. Schilling was very much a work horse during his career and he pitched 3,261 innings.

Also in 2001, Schilling received the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball’s highest humanitarian honor, for his charitable community work.

Above all on the field, Schilling earned a reputation as a big-game pitcher for his post-season heroics. Schilling’s post-season record is 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in appearances for the Phillies, Diamondbacks and Red Sox. He went 1-1 in his first World Series in 1993 when the Phils lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, but he played a significant role for three other Series titlists. In 2001, when Arizona won its only Series championship, Schilling was the MVP of the event.

The bloody sock game was in the playoffs of 2004 when Schilling took the mound for the Red Sox against doctors orders because of an ankle injury and ignored his problem as stitches came undone leading to blood seeping through bandages and through his sock. The blood was clearly visible as Schilling labored. That was the Series when the Red Sox overcame their 86-year drought and won the championship. At 40, in 2007, Schilling won another Series game when the Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals for their second Series victory of the decade.

No other pitcher with at least 10 decisions in the post-season has a higher winning percentage than Schilling’s .846.

Schilling retired after the 2007 season, putting him on the Hall of Fame ballot being voted on by Dec. 31. Schilling has a lot of things going for him on his record–his wins total is a little low for the Hall–but his career deserves close examination. He just may not receive that amidst all of the hoo-hah surrounding other players and the emotional hand-wringing stemming from whether or not the other guys took performance-enhancing drugs during their careers.

Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks Boston Red Sox Curt Schilling Hall Of Fame

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