For the first time since 2013, baseball’s Hall of Fame voters elected … no one.
Curt Schilling? Just short. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens? Still nope and nope. New-to-the-ballot stars Torii Hunter and Mark Buehrle? Not even close.
Seventy-five percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America is needed to get into Cooperstown. Schilling was the closest at 71.1 percent, just 16 votes shy. Clemens (61.6) and Bonds (61.8) were next. All three of them now head to the ballot next year for their 10th and final year.
Scott Rolen (52.9) and Todd Helton (44.9) showed impressive gains that may put them on track for Cooperstown one day, but they’re still quite a ways off.
It’s only the third time in the past 25 years that no one was elected by the writers. The other time came in 1996, when Phil Niekro and Tony Perez were the top vote-getters.
Schilling asks to be removed from ballot
This year was largely believed to be Schilling or nothing, as he entered as the top vote-getter left from last year. The class of first-year eligibles weren’t particularly impressive. And even Schilling was viewed as a long shot to actually reach 75 percent.
While Bonds and Clemens are controversial for their believed connections to steroids, Schilling hasn’t done himself any favors by broadcasting his political beliefs. While the Hall of Fame is certainly full of Republicans, Schilling has gone further and further to the extreme right since his playing days ended.
He’s shared racist and transphobic memes that eventually got him fired from ESPN, promoted white supremacists on his podcast and most recently endorsed on Twitter the Jan. 6 insurrection efforts at the U.S. Capitol.
Some voters reportedly even asked the Hall of Fame if they could withdraw their votes for Schilling after Jan. 6. Ballots were due Dec. 31.
After he learned this year’s results, Schilling posted a letter to Facebook that he sent to the Hall of Fame, asking to be taken off the ballot for 2022.
"I will not participate in the final year of voting. 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 also criticized Bonds and Clemens, while saying he’s never committed any sort of crime.
“I’ve certainly been exposed to racism and sexism and homophobia as it’s part of who human beings are. I’ve played with and talked with gay teammates. I’ve played with wife beaters, adulterers, assaulted, drug addicts and alcoholics. I’ve never hit a woman, driven drunk, done drugs, PEDs or otherwise, assaulted anyone or committed any sort of crime. But I’m now somehow in a conversation with two men who cheated, and instead of being accountable they chose to destroy others lives to protect their lie. I will always have one thing they will forever chase. A legacy. Whatever mine is as a player it will be the truth, and one I earned for better or worse.”
Bonds, Clemens get one more chance
The other two big controversial names on the ballot also have one more year to get 75 percent from Hall of Fame voters. They continue to climb, but with one year left, their cases are looking tougher since they didn’t yet cross the 70 percent threshold.
They did increase from last year, but barely with Bonds gaining 1.1 percent and Clemens gaining .6 percent, but there’s still a sizable gap to make up.
If not, their fate will be left up to the Hall of Fame’s era committees, which reconsider the candidacy of certain players every year. Those panels are made up of 16 players, executives, historians and writers.
Good gains for mid-ballot stars
This year’s ballot may go down in history as the year Helton, Rolen, Andruw Jones and Billy Wagner became realistic Cooperstown candidates.
All of them finished with good-sized gains:
• Rolen: 52.9 percent, up from 35.3
• Helton: 44.9 percent, up from 29.2
• Jones: 33.9 percent, up from 19.4
• Wagner: 46.4 percent, up from 31.7
One player who actually had a giant dip was Omar Vizquel, who was accused of domestic violence in December. We went from 52.6 percent in 2020 to 49.1 in 2021.
Swisher, Zito among one-and-done candidates
Only two first-year candidates survived to see another year on the ballot. Five percent of the vote is needed to stick around and only Mark Buerhle (11 percent), Torii Hunter (9.5) and Tim Hudson (5.2) hit that threshold.
A number of recognizable players were on the ballot, but fell short:
Barry Zito (0.2)
Nick Swisher (0.0)
Aramis Ramirez (1.0)
LaTroy Hawkins (0.5)
Even though no players were voted in Tuesday, the Hall of Fame could still have a ceremony in July, COVID willing. Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were voted in last January but their induction ceremonies were postponed because of the pandemic.
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