No one earned election to the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday, including
nominee Curt Schilling, and he's fine with it.
"If there was ever a ballot and a year to make a statement about what we didn't do as players, which is we didn't actively push to get the game clean, this is it," Schilling said on ESPN yesterday.
The man they called, "The Big Schill," earned 38.8 percent of the vote, a fitting total, given that he wore No. 38. He finished just ahead of both Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, two of the game's biggest stars, but also the two players most tarnished by their links to performance-enhancing drugs.
Though Schilling was never suspected of steroid use during his career -- in fact, the former Red Sox right-hander served as one of the game's most outspoken critics, at least until clamming up in front of Congress -- he recognizes that players of his stature should have done more.
"Perception in our world is absolutely reality. Everybody is linked to it," Schilling told ESPN. "You either are a suspected user or you're somebody who didn't actively do anything to stop it. You're one or the other if you were a player in this generation. Unfortunately, I fall into the category of one of the players that didn't do anything to stop it. As a player rep and a member of the association, we had the ability to do it and we looked the other way, just like the media did, just like the ownership did, just like the fans did. And now this is part of the price that we're paying."
That said, Schilling's showing in his first year on the ballot certainly should give him hope for the future, particularly when steroids become less front and center with the voters.
Schilling built a sterling resume during his 20-year career, winning 216 games, striking out more than 3,000 batters, and going 11-2 in the playoffs with a 2.23 ERA while winning three World Series titles, two with the Red Sox. He is considered perhaps the best big-game pitcher of his generation, and among the few greatest of all time.
Before the vote he said he'd be happy with anything above 35 percent.
"I haven't gotten anybody out in six years," Schilling told ESPN. "I quit playing. It's nice people are talking about and considering me as a Hall of Fame candidate. It's incredibly humbling, flattering. I'm honored just to be in the conversation."
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