Former ESPN personality, current Breitbart talk show host and Donald Trump supporter, and potential future U.S. Senate candidate Curt Schilling is entering his fifth year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot, but his comments this election season may harm his chances of getting in. In particular, Schilling’s apparent Twitter praise of a pro-Trump t-shirt suggesting lynching journalists seems to have turned some BBWAA voters off his candidacy:
(Update: Schilling deleted the tweet, but here is a screengrab.)
The BBWAA’s lists of public ballots show Heyman voted for Schilling in 2016, 2015, and 2014 (there’s no record of his ballot for 2013), so this isn’t someone who was already against Schilling’s candidacy. This also led to a further Heyman-Schilling fight:
Update: Other BBWAA voters also tweeted about Schilling yesterday, as collected by Ryan Thibodaux on Twitter. Some weighed in on each of the sides:
Plenty of non-voter observers also suggested this particular anti-journalist reference may hurt Schilling’s HOF case:
It’s worth debating if this should really impact Schilling’s Hall of Fame chances, though. Yes, the Hall of Fame says “voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played,” and yes, an argument could be made that tweets like this from Schilling (or, say, his business failures or other terrible comments) suggest Schilling’s “integrity” (something he loves to yell at others about) or “character” may not be of the highest quality. However, as Joe Posnanski eloquently argued last year, trying to bring character into the equation is often problematic:
And integrity? Character? Sportsmanship? Are you kidding me? Ty Cobb was essentially the first man elected — there’s a paragon of sportsmanship. The Hall of Fame has someone who hit an umpire, one who spit at an umpire, another who threw a wad of tobacco juice at an umpire and several who petulantly kicked dirt on umpires while screaming the foulest obscenities. There are players who used illegal bats, who scuffed and spat on baseballs, who stole signs, who took performance-enhancing drugs (including steroids and monkey testicles), who gambled, who gave less than their best, who went into the crowd after fans, who threw baseballs at opponents’ heads and who refused to sign players who were black. The collection of people in the National Baseball Hall of Fame is no less flawed, no more sanctified, than the collection of players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame or the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame or the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s just that the National Baseball Hall of Fame talks a lot more about character.
So, there’s a good argument to be made that voters should consider Schilling based on his career, not his post-career activities. Some, like Heyman and some of the others listed above, may well change their mind based on these comments or other things Schilling’s done this year, though, and that could be problematic for him. Schilling was only named on 230 ballots last year (52.3 per cent), and he needs to get over 75 per cent to get in. That was an improvement over the 39.2 per cent he posted in 2015, but he still has a long way to go. While Schilling’s attacks on journalists (and lame defenses involving “it’s funny“, “it’s sarcasm” and “What about Benghazi?”) may not hurt him with everyone, there’s certainly a chance they’ll take some votes away from him.