Why Curt Schilling Should Go to the Hall of Fame
Written on March 23, 2009 at 11:59 am, by Eric Cressey
I got a phone call this morning around 7:30AM. I knew it was coming, but was just a matter of time. So, when I saw Curt Schilling’s name on the Caller ID, I figured that he was ready to call it a career – and a brilliant career at that. You can read his official retirement statement on his blog.
We had the radio on today, and the commentators talked quite a bit about his impressive career stats, fantastic post-season record, and three World Series rings. It’s safe to say that all of these factors are going to come up time and time again in discussions over the next few years about whether or not Curt ought to go to Cooperstown. He’s got over 3,000 career strikeouts, and a career ERA of under 3.46. Throw in six all-star game appearances, three Cy Young runner-up seasons, and a World Series MVP. He’s also got the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio of all time. Those factors alone – plus the subjective fact that he is probably the single-best post-season pitcher of all time – ought to get him in.
To me, though, there are two more factors that make this a sure thing.
First, while I’m a huge Red Sox fan and – like millions others – will be eternally grateful for the two championships he helped bring to Boston, I have to say that what he did in Arizona from 2001-2003 was nothing short of incredible. At a time when the use of performance-enhancing drugs was off the charts – and guys were destroying home run records – Schilling was a dominant pitcher. It didn’t matter how much hitters cheated; they still couldn’t put runs on the board against him. Curt’s been extremely outspoken against the use of these performance-enhancing drugs, but to me, his numbers during that time period are proof to kids everywhere that you don’t have to cheat to get ahead.
Second, Curt’s career spanned a time period where it seemed like every day, a new athlete was getting into trouble with the law. We’ve heard about athletes making bad decisions and getting busted for drunk driving, bar fights, spousal abuse, drug abuse, gambling, adultery, and even murder. Meanwhile, Curt was raising millions of dollars for various charities, being a devoted husband and father, contributing as a valuable member of communities in PA, AZ, and MA, and mentoring up-and-coming pitchers.
I watched first-hand this winter as he took time out of his busy schedule to talk pitching with my minor leaguers and high school athletes. You could tell that it was an interesting blast of emotions for them. On one hand, they were starstruck and amazed that he would actually care enough to share his wisdom with them – and do so with so much passion. On the other hand, they were all frantically trying to understand and memorize all the great ideas they were hearing from a guy with decades of experience in the big leagues.
Say what you want about Curt being outspoken, but make no mistake about it: at a time when baseball needed good citizens off the field as much as it needed stars on the field, Curt filled both those roles. Unfortunately, none of the folks with whom Curt interacted at Cressey Performance will get a vote in the Hall of Fame balloting in a few years. However, if we did, I can say without wavering that everyone in this group would vote him as a person – and that’s independent of his impressive baseball resumé.
Congratulations on a great career, Curt. I’m damn proud to have been even just a little part of it.