For the first time since 1960, the membership of the National Baseball Hall of Fame will remain frozen.
No player on the Hall’s 2021 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot reached the 75% threshold needed for enshrinement in Cooperstown. The results of the voting were announced by Hall of Fame president Tim Mead on MLB Network on Tuesday night.
The leading vote-getter was controversial pitcher Curt Schilling, who was named on 71.1% of the ballots, 16 votes shy of the minimum needed for selection. Schilling was followed by all-time home run leader Barry Bonds (61.8%) and 354-game winner Roger Clemens (61.6) in the voting.
All three former All-Stars were in their ninth year of eligibility on the ballot, leaving them one more chance next winter. Players get 10 shots at enshrinement via the writers’ voting before moving on to consideration by one of the Hall’s various era-based veterans committees.
However, Schilling, in a lengthy letter to the Hall that he also posted to Facebook, asked to be removed from the writers’ ballot next year.
“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,” Schilling wrote. “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.”
Hall of Fame board chairman Jane Forbes Clark said in a statement that the board “will consider the request at our next meeting.”
The support for Bonds and Clemens has mostly plateaued in recent years as the writers’ positions on players associated with the steroid era have become largely entrenched at a level leaving them just shy of the threshold. Last year, Clemens was named on 61% of the ballots, while Bonds was at 60.7.
Schilling, on the other hand, had seen his vote share climb from 45% in 2017 to 70% last year. Historically, most players who reach the 70% level eventually garner enough support to land in Cooperstown. However, backlash against Schilling’s public and social media comments appears to be limiting his support.
Among Schilling’s more controversial statements were a 2016 tweet, later deleted, in which he appeared to endorse the lynching of journalists. More recently, Schilling expressed support for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — though the writers’ ballots had been submitted prior to that date.
In addition, Schilling was fired as a baseball analyst by ESPN after posting a derogatory message on social media about transgender people. That followed his previous suspension by the network after he compared extremist Muslims to Nazis in a social media post.
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