Old friend Curt Schilling had a few things to say about the 2015 Hall of Fame class and spoke about one of the reasons that may have cost him votes in his third attempt to gain entry to the Cooperstown shrine.
Pedro Martinez (91.1%), Randy Johnson (97.3 %), John Smoltz (82.9%) -- all pitchers in their first year of eligibility -- were voted in Tuesday along with former Astros infielder, outfielder, and holdover candidate Craig Biggio (82.7%).
Schilling – whose numbers compare with, and exceed Smoltz's, in several pitching areas, was asked if he understood why Smoltz received 240 more votes than he did on the 2015 ballot.
“I think he got them because of [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine,” Schilling said on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan show Wednesday. “The fact that they won 14 straight pennants I think... his Swiss Army knife versatility... I think he got a lot of accolades for that, I think he got a lot of recognition for that and he's a Hall of Famer so … and I think the other big thing is, I think he's a Democrat, and so...,” Schilling said chuckling a bit. “I know that as a Republican that there's some people that really don't like that.”
Shortly after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, Schilling threw a political pitch for President George W. Bush. The Sox ace endorsed Bush on ABC’s “Good Morning America” in October and agreed to make campaign appearances on behalf of the president which infuriated many in Red Sox Nation. Schilling closed out the interview by telling GMA host Charlie Gibson: “And make sure you tell everybody to vote, and vote Bush next week.”
Earlier in 2004 before the Democratic National Convention in Boston, when Senator John Kerry threw out the first pitch of a Sox-Yankees game, Schilling yelled “Go Bush” to political reporters who were still in the Red Sox locker room after Kerry had departed.
Schilling believes he would have picked up at least 100 more writer votes on the HoF ballot if he wasn't so outspoken about his political leanings.
“Absolutely. When human beings do something, anything, there's bias and prejudice,” Schilling said. “Listen, nine percent of the voters did not vote for Pedro. There's something wrong with the process and some of the people in the process when that happens.
“I don't think that it kept me out or anything like that but I do know there are guys who probably will never vote for me because of the things I said or did. That's the way it works.”
Schilling received 39.2 percent of the vote this time around, up from the 29.2 percent he received last year. In his first year on the ballot in 2013, Schilling garnered 38.8 percent of the 75 percent needed to gain entry.
Until he's asked about it again next year, Schilling said he doesn't think about the Hall at all.
“I can't spend my time being concerned about people's opinions of me that I'll never meet,” Schilling said. “I don't want to diminish or degrade the accomplishment because the Hall of Fame – the greatest players in the world are there – but there are Hall of Fame Players that aren't there, that if I don't get in I'll be OK. Dale Murphy and Fred McGriff, I know there are guys, Jeff Bagwell, there are guys that aren't in that are Hall of Famers, so I’ll be all right."
Regarding guys like Mike Piazza, who's knocking on the Hall door with 69.9 percent of the vote, Schilling said it might be different for the power-hitting catcher who is rumored to have been involved with PEDs.
“I think Piazza’s move up the ladder was an indicator," Schilling said. "I think guys are starting to soften up a little bit. One of the differences, though, for me is that Mike Piazza was never named on anything. Everybody that didn't vote for Mike didn't vote for him because they think he might have cheated. And I think it’s the same thing that’s killed Bagwell, which is unfortunate, because I think Jeff is a Hall of Fame player."
Schilling was asked if suspected PED users Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds would ever get elected into the Hall.
“I don't think there's ever going to be enough writers OK with it that Clemens and Bonds will get in,” Schilling said.
In an ESPN Radio interview in February 2013, Schilling said he was encouraged to consider using performance-enhancing drugs himself near the end of his career.
“At the end of my career, in 2008 when I had gotten hurt, there was a conversation that I was involved in, in which it was brought to my attention that this is a potential path I might want to pursue,” Schilling said in an interview with ESPN's Colin Cowherd concerning star players accused of using PEDs.
Schilling did not specifically name the Red Sox, but when asked where he was told the PED option, he replied “in the clubhouse.”
Schilling said "former members of the organization" were involved.
“They’re no longer there," he said in 2013. "But it was an incredibly uncomfortable conversation because it came up in the midst of a group of people. The other people weren't in the conversation, but they could clearly hear the conversation, and it was suggested to me that at my age, and in my situation, why not, what did I have to lose? Because if I wasn't going to get healthy, it didn't matter, and if I did get healthy, great.
“It caught me off guard, to say the least, but that was an awkward situation.”
Schilling was 41 when he played his last game in 2007 as a member of the Red Sox’ World Series championship team. He signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox for 2008, but did not pitch because of shoulder problems. He officially retired from baseball in 2009.
Take a look back at the highs and lows of Schilling's time in Boston, both on and off the field.